Movie Breakdown: The Party (Noah)

March 1, 2018


Pre-Screening Stance:

I know nothing about Sally Potter or this movie, but it’s packed with talented members of the Commonwealth, so I’m thinking it’s probably at least watchable.

Post-Screening Ramble:

The Party is a film seemingly pulled from the late ’90s/early ’00s. The sort of film that’s unbearably artsy – black and white, single location, stark lighting – and focused on horrible people being nothing more than horrible. The type of film that features Timothy Spall drunkenly confined to a single chair for the entirety of its running time as actors too good for this material, banter on and on and on about love, relationships, philosophy and the state of the British healthcare system. Kristin Scott Thomas plays Janet, a woman who’s finally secured her dream of becoming the Minister of Health for England. To celebrate she’s brought over the closest friends of her and her husband, Bill (Timothy Spall), to drink too much and eat. But eating never occurs, almost from the moment her awful, upper-crust intelligentsia friends start arriving, secrets are revealed, the meaning of life is debated, and a gun is waved around. There’s something insufferably self-aware about director Sally Potter’s closed door “mystery,” a streak of babbling, at times incoherent, pseudo-academic pontificating that leads the characters in circles, around each other, around the secrets that tear them apart, and around anything resembling a decent movie. It is – as it features Thomas, Spall, Cillian Murphy, Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer, Bruno Ganz and Cherry Jones – well acted, but the superficial arguments of a bunch of one-percenters grows old almost as soon as it begins, and the viewer is forced to clench their fists, grit their teeth and soldier their way through a surprisingly grueling 70 minutes. Worse yet, Potter seems to be trying to say something – about Britain, about old friendships, about what becomes important as our lives draw to their end – but it’s so buried beneath the bitching and moaning of a bunch of rich white people, it’s near impossible to decipher.

One Last Thought:

I never knew Timothy Spall was a skinny human. But he is, almost gaunt if I’m being honest.


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