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Party, The (DQ)


Stars: Timothy Spall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Cillian Murphy, Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer, Cherry Jones, Bruno Ganz

Director: Sally Potter

This dinner party from hell is so extreme that they don't even get around to dinner.

Janet (Scott Thomas), newly appointed Health Minister in the shadow British government, is awaiting a group of friends to help her celebrate. A mysterious and persistent mobile caller would suggest an unknown lover, although this is not the reason her grizzled - ex Yale professor - husband (Spall) sits morosely with a glass of wine playing jazz records and staring into space.

Waspish April (Clarkson) arrives, with her pseudo-intellectual German partner (Ganz) in tow) and proceeds to dissect everyone like pinning butterflies.

Lesbians Martha (Jones) and Jinny (Mortimer) announce they're expecting triplets. 'Was that a boast or a cry for help?' asks Clarkson.

A breathless Tom (Murphy) arrives, without wife Marianne, and carrying a gun...

Various liaisons and impending deaths soon have everyone at each other's throats in a film that seems longer than its brief runtime, and could do with more of Clarkson's delightful one-liners. 'You're a first-class lesbian,' she tells Jones at one point, 'and a second-class thinker.'

It's bewilderingly made in black and white which, whether for budgetary or artistic reasons, will surely limit otherwise bright commercial prospects. I should add that the lugubrious Spall is sensationally good and steals the acting honours, even from Clarkson.

David Quinlan

UK 2017. UK Distributor: Picturehouse (BFI/BBC). Black and white.
70 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 11 Oct 2017