The party is a 2017 dark comedy directed by Sally Potter. It’s a movie made with good actors, shot in stylish black and white, it takes place in real time, and it features brilliant dialogues and sensational music. There are plenty of reasons to recommend watching it! And now my two cents on it, I’ll be brief.
The simple idea behind the movie is the following: a group of intimate friends gather at the house of Kristin Scott Thomas and her husband Timothy Spall (Wormtail in the Harry Potter universe) to celebrate a good news regarding the former. Thus, Bruno Ganz (yes, he’s the one who played Hitler in Der untergang in 2004) and his girlfriend Patricia Clarkson, the homosexual couple Cherry Jones – Emily Mortimer (she’s the protagonist in the not-thrilling The bookshop by Isabel Coixet, who received the Goya for best movie of 2017), and Cillian Murphy (among other things, he’s the protagonist in 28 days later by Danny Boyle, 2002) all arrive at the house and… everything goes horribly wrong for everyone, obviously!
What does it remind me of? Carnage (2011) by Polanski, of course, that I refer to once again as I did in my review of Peter’s friends by Branagh (1992)! And why does The party work? As I wrote above, because of more or less everything! The screenplay’s ‘trick’ is to make all characters extreme, almost all with backgrounds filled with feminist/class struggles in the 70s and then turned either to cynicism (Clarkson and Jones), or to new age (Ganz), or even actual politics (Scott Thomas). So, each character is peculiar and the interaction with the others simply adds to such peculiarity. This results in a series of surrealistic, but still credible, scenes escalating to almost pure madness as revelation after revelation on our heroes’ lives are thrown into the mix.
In only 71 minutes we’ll get to know and understand the past, the present, and the future of the lives of seven characters that in no way will come out as one-dimensional. The party is convincing because it’s classical cinema but it’s also firmly grounded in present day reality, because actors are all incredibly well directed, and because the soundtrack, of all styles and genres, accompanies the rhythm of the screenplay in a very convincing way. The ending, which is rigorously linked to the pre-opening titles’ scene, maybe arrives too abruptly, but makes us go away from the cinema wanting to talk about the screenplay, and about how good all the actors were, and about the great images that Sally Potter gave us.
The party is a small budget movie shot in a couple of weeks, ‘only’ counting on good ideas and good actors to stand out. It demonstrates that in order to make a good movie you don’t necessarily need lots of money and impressive visual effects! Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody made a theatrical adaptation of this material, as it seems perfect for that. Ciao!