The Party starts un-assumedly and then goes on to build, and build and build. The one location film brings seven friends together, for a dinner party celebrating the recent promotion of Kristin Scott Thomas’ (Darkest Hour, My Old Lady) character, Janet.
Instantly, the film is striking through the choice of black and white visuals. This brave style takes away from the location, and in fact, highlights Sally Potter’s (Orlando, Yes) excellent script. The story slowly cranks its way to the final climax, but how the characters get there is what is most impressive.
Usually, when set in a single location, films can be rather dull. Yet, the delicate interweaving of stories makes for the pacing of this film to be spot on.
Everything that is said or done builds up each character perfectly and creates an interesting dynamic for the audience to sink their teeth into.
For example, Patricia Clarkson’s (Maze Runner, House Of Cards (TV)) character, April, has different views to the rest of the party, both politically and personally, though is always presented as Thomas’ confidant.
Likewise, the distant, but brilliant performance of Timothy Spall (Denial, Away), allows for two excellent twists, that, as they are revealed bring each character to self-reflect.
Due to this film being more of a character study, it does not break the mould cinematically. Instead, Sally Potter uses close-ups incredibly effectively, highlighting the anguish in a decision or revelation.
The director compliments this with an almost excessive use of two shots between the characters. This, keeps the dialogue flowing magnificently, allowing what could have been a slow film, feel snappy and dramatic.
Impressively, at a run time of just over an hour, the film feels fresh at all times, and is most definitely relatable to most friendship groups, albeit this one swings more towards the dramatic.
Though, it is the performances of this all-star cast that allows this film to shine. Of course, the bold stylistic choice, and the excellent script give the film a platform to build upon, but it is the performances that really raise the bar.
Thomas, is electric, taking a character who goes through every single emotion, from elation to jealousy and seemingly doing each with ease. Emily Mortimer (Spectral, Hugo) draws in all of the audience’s sympathy, playing the house-wife with a twist.
Yet, it is Cillian Murphy’s (Dunkirk, Free Fire) portrayal of a seemingly manic banker that keeps us guessing throughout. He excellently keeps the films twist always in play, and makes it so it shocks but does not surprise.
Each member of the cast brings something to the table, and leaves it there, creating a film which is unlike any other seen in 2017.
In today’s age, film has become far more about spectacle, than it has about characters. Film’s that involve superhero’s and aliens dominate our screens. However, it is experiences like Sally Potter’s The Party that impress me the most.
They are a character study, and an example of why people love the cinema; it is a way to peer into the lives of others, and to realise that we are all as weird as each other.
From the UK & Europe