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The Party

You could do worse than watching this talented crew sling barbs at each other

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Sally Potter assembles a dream cast for a dark parlor comedy, in which seven archetypes take turns verbally bashing each other. It’s ostensibly a celebratory dinner party for Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) who has been ascended to health minister. Gathered are her morose professor husband (Timothy Spall); her acid-tongued, cynical friend (Patricia Clarkson); a new-age German (Bruno Ganz); a pregnant chef (Emily Mortimer) and her older wife (Cherry Jones); and a frantic banker (Cillian Murphy). Vinyl is played, appetizers are burnt, vows are broken, a gun appears, and secrets are revealed. It’s similar to 10,000 previous single-set dramas that have fun eviscerating upper-middle class manners, and most of the exaggerated characterizations and pot shots are as expected. Murphy’s banker is a cokehead, and Jones is no ordinary professor: She specializes in “domestic labour gender differentiation in American utopianism.” But it’s a tidy 70 minutes, and for extra artiness, it’s handsomely shot in black and white. If you like these sorts of dramatic exercises, you could do worse than watching this talented crew sling barbs at each other. 


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