The Party Screen 75 of 13 reviews

The Party

2017

The Party Poster
  • Sally Potter is a filmmaker who deserves to be more decisively seen and heard. I’m not one for avidly going to bat for socially-purposeful art, but I dare say that Potter, whose films have long addressed gender identity, political commitment, feminism, capitalism, and other concerns is absolutely, in the parlance of the times, one of the Filmmakers We Need Now.

  • It is an absolute joy to watch this ensemble of gifted actors work off one another with such enjoyment and enthusiasm. I was particularly glad to see long-time favorite Ganz and the rarely seen Jones. She brings an intense sincerity to her role that is both tonally jarring with the rest of the film and evidence that there is still a heart beating in the breast of humanity that might make it worth saving.

  • Like Alain Resnais in his Alan Ayckbourn adaptations, Potter finds an insistently cinematic language for and through the energy of farce, risking fisheye shots that satirise the deep seriousness with which the characters treat themselves. Beneath all the verbal brilliance are constant reminders of the chaotic nature of the body as it upsets logic and rationality, seen particularly in Murphy’s wired performance as Tom and Mortimer’s portrayal of the pregnant Jinny.

  • Like Roman Polanski’s equally volcanic Carnage (2011), The Party is a showcase for exceptional acting, with Patricia Clarkson, Kristin Scott Thomas and Bruno Ganz as first amongst equals in the outstanding cast. Potter keeps the tension high from the get-go, rapidly cycling through the characters spread across the various rooms and letting a continuous stream of lies and betrayals—some fresh, some very old—bubble to the surface until all are unmasked and not a single bond is left undamaged.

  • If, for the first few minutes, some of the bitchy dialogue seems a little arch and Spall’s largely silent, staring, numbed performance appears a tad theatrical, that’s no reason for worry, for Potter is making her first brave and for the most part very successful foray into a kind of dark satirical farce. As you might expect, hers is a comedy of contemporary socio-political manners, but it’s inflected here with a deliciously ironic touch as she probes and examines a range of human foibles.

  • A brisk comedy of neurotic manners from British writer-director Sally Potter. Dissections of conflicted bourgeois self-obsession are plentiful on the British stage but currently far less so in UK cinema, which makes The Party something of a rarity – and it’s surprising that such a film should be the work of a director generally known for formally experimental, anti-mainstream fictions.

  • Potter is a shapeshifting artist who makes shapeshifting films, often about people who are themselves in flux. And yet, watching her latest effort The Party — a tight, bitter, and very funny 71-minute dark comedy . . . — it’s hard not to sense Potter’s sensibility and presence throughout. It’s politically charged without being sermonizing. It shows the ridiculousness of its characters’ actions without sitting in judgment of them. And it’s filled with terrific performances.

  • A succinct dinner-party farce that... represents something of a departure for the director. While Potter is perhaps best known for her early feminist films Orlando and The Gold Diggers, in The Party feminism is less guiding principle than it is the butt of numerous jokes. Neither the film’s premise nor its gags are particularly novel, but it avoids conventionality through its distinctive style and impressive ensemble cast, emerging as a pithy but pleasing satire of the contemporary bourgeoisie.

  • While Potter insists that The Party was conceived as a film... there’s no getting around the night-at-the-theater feel of the thing. And as much as the cast makes the most of the occasionally over-constructed barbs they blowgun at each other, there are clunky moments that suggest that editors Anders Refn and Emilie Orsini simply didn’t have the material to smooth over the intermittent lurches, leaving the final cut playing more like a dress rehearsal.

  • Ms. Potter stirs things up, though to no identifiable end. Characters talk and talk, mostly at one another, and they bitch, argue and fight. The level of animus feels as contrived as it is narratively useful. . . . The lack of political specificity (the characters are vaguely coded as left-leaning) dulls whatever critique Ms. Potter is after. In the end, the big point is that people are complex, though alas not nearly enough here.

  • The script is bursting with quick wit but would have been far better suited to a short film format. Its seventy-one-minute run time suggests a technical qualifier for feature film so it could reach a wider audience. Watched with the public instead of the press I was most affected by the laughter and applause this elicited from others (to my utter bemusement).

  • Potter's latest, basically a filmed play confined to a trendy London town house and tastefully shot in black-and-white, mines similar territory to that of Ginger and Rosa, only with a more arid, less forgiving spirit. A contemporary farce with aspirations to satire and an awkward dab of tragedy, The Party clocks in at a mercifully trim 71-minutes, which is more than enough time to fire volleys of flat-footed cheap shots across the bows.

  • A uniformly top-notch cast is squandered in this labored farce that feels like a script Sally Potter might have had kicking around in different drafts since the Blairite 90s. . . . Sadly, it's all in service to a schematic, unfunny production that is a bit like a 5th generation mimeograph of Molière, someone's theoretical idea of what a farce ought to look like.

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