Hey! This might be the first bat-shit crazy movie of the year! Or… maybe it’s just dark comedy. Either way, my attention is grasped.
The story looks like it’s about a get-together for a bunch of friends, but then the husband of one of them comes out and says that he’s been having an affair with another woman in the party and so begins an increase in irrational behavior that might end in murder.
Here’s the small but fascinating cast. Starring, we have Timothy Spall (EARLY MAN , ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS , ENCHANTED , HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN , and the upcoming THE CORRUPTED ), Patricia Clarkson (MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE , EASY A , THE GREEN MILE , and upcoming films OUT OF BLUE  and DELIRIUM ), Cillian Murphy (DUNKIRK , IN THE HEART OF THE SEA , THE DARK KNIGHT , 28 DAYS LATER… , and the upcoming ANNA ), Emily Mortimer (THE SENSE OF AN ENDING , HUGO , NOTTING HILL , and upcoming films MARY POPPINS RETURNS  and WRITE WHEN YOU GET WORK ), Cherry Jones (WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT , OCEAN’S TWELVE , SIGNS , and upcoming films BOY ERASED  and A RAINY DAY IN NEW YORK ), Kristen Scott Thomas (DARKEST HOUR , THE GOLDEN COMPASS , MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE , and upcoming films TOMB RAIDER  and PARAMOUR ), and Bruno Ganz (THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE  and the upcoming THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT ).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Sally Potter, known for stuff I’ve never heard of. There is no score, so there is no composer. The cinematographer is Aleksei Rodionov, known for stuff I’ve never heard of. Finally, the co-editors are Emilie Orsini (stuff I’ve never heard of) and Anders Refn (ANTICHRIST ).
Overall, count me in! This looks like it’s a lot of fun.
This is my honest opinion of: THE PARTY
In the wake of being announced the shadow minister of health for the opposition party in Britain, Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) decides to host a small celebratory party at her home with her abnormally quiet husband Bill (Timothy Spall) and her friends. But what was supposed to be an evening of happiness and well-wishing for the future shifts course dramatically when Bill announces to the party that he has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and that he doesn’t have long to live and the rest of the group attempts to comfort the married couple… that is, until even more secrets are revealed.
Well, if you wanted to see a dark and quirky comedy, then you’re going to find it here. And I sure am a sucker for dark comedies.
Oh, and it’s short. As in, the run time on this film is credited as one hour and eleven minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever paid for a movie that short in length and was considered a full-length film. But then again, a film just has to be longer than forty minutes to be considered feature length, so…
As a whole, I like the movie more than I don’t, but I guess I was hoping for a little more bat-shit insanity than I wound up getting. That’s not to say it isn’t there, but it’s not in the manner that I was expecting. For one thing, the pistol featured in the trailer barely makes an appearance. I think I was hoping to see the film play out like this: Bill comes out as a cheater, the pistol gets introduced, and it becomes a game of keep-away, preventing Janet from trying to shoot him, and then more of the people involved come clean with their secrets and then a mass struggle for the gun ensues with everyone trying to everyone, running around the house, something to that effect. Just watching these high society, sophisticated women deteriorate in mental stability. At least, I think that’s what I was hoping for in this movie.
Nah, the movie is basically a lot of talking and butting political heads. That’s not to say it’s done poorly… if you understand it (I’m not politically savvy), and… ahh let’s just get right into what it is.
The first thing I noticed is the wonderful chemistry between the actors. I would swear they were all friends off camera what with the way they bicker and support each other both in subtle and not so subtle ways. But no one here is perfect.
Janet is proud and hard-working with a great sense of justice and intending to go about it in a non-corrupt way, but she’s far from angelic, as it’s made clear early on that she’s been having an affair on Bill, which we see via text messages from an unknown caller. And you never really sympathize with her because she constantly talks Bill up, saying things like, “He was always there to support me, gave up his position as a university professor” or whatever the hell it was that he gave up, so you know it’s more or less her trying to justify her own actions and probably convince herself that she’s a good wife.
April (Patricia Clarkson) is one of the most entertainingly and hilariously condescending characters I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe it’s less that the lines are funny, but more in the way that Clarkson says it. She is so posh and uppity that I feel like any other actor would have simply made the role of April unlikable, instead of amusingly arrogant. Although the repeated line, “Oh shut up, Gottfried” did have me chuckling. Speaking of Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), I love his interactions with Bill. Bill is a devout atheist and as the story progresses and the more Gottfried opens his mouth, the more Bill starts to buy into the hippie bullshit, all because of his cancer and he’s got almost no time to live. “Everything’s changed,” so he says. And you can tell that Bill is scared like a motherfucker, and it’s like Gottfried’s beliefs are exactly what he… wants to latch on to.
Now let’s talk about the odd man out, Cillian Murphy as Tom. On the one hand, this character is clearly here for attention. Not in the sense like Murphy is overacting, or Tom is obnoxious and seeking attention, but in that… the camera is on him a lot. Every time he leaves the group, we have to be shown that he snorts coke and has a pistol. Doing it once is fine, setting up that this story is going to go in an insane direction, and he’s likely going to instigate it, but when you do it nearly four times in twenty minutes, it gets a little grating. Having said that, Murphy does seem to have a paranoid drug addict trying not to act paranoid or addicted down to a tee. And you never know exactly what he’s doing with the pistol or when he’s going to snap and shoot everybody up, if that’s even his goal. So if nothing else, it’s amusing to watch him interact with everyone.
I do have my questions. First of all, why does Jinny (Emily Mortimer) think that all men are rapists? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that there are women out there with that prejudice against men, but… that seems like an extreme in this story that doesn’t really focus on it, comes from nowhere, and doesn’t really go anywhere with it. And when I say it comes out of nowhere, I really mean that. I mean, sure, she’s uncomfortable when she’s around Tom, but who wouldn’t be if he’s running around acting like a crazy person and ripping smoke detectors right off the ceiling? This only really comes up when it’s revealed that Bill and Martha (Cherry Jones) had sex once or twice back in college (she’s a lesbian now). So… they had consensual sex and that… somehow means Bill, and by extension all men, are rapists? I’m legitimately confused. Not to mention that it’s revealed that she’s pregnant with three boys so… yeah, those kids are going to be fucked up. For the record, how does she already know that they’re boys? Didn’t she literally just find out that she was pregnant? What the hell did I miss? Also, why is Martha so hesitant about having kids now? Isn’t this a conversation she and Jinny had before? Having kids is a pretty big fucking step in life. Finding out that your female significant other is pregnant is really not the time to be second guessing decisions.
I admit to loving some of the nuances in this whole situation. The whole thing is that Marianne has been screwing everyone. She’s married to Tom, slept with Bill, and it’s revealed in the final shot that she was also having an affair with Janet; IE, she was the unknown caller. I think I can connect the dots as to why Marianne is such a slut. Tom is a drug abuser, so she likely cheated on him for that. But it’s also likely that she slept with his wife because Bill does kind of strike me as an asshole. After all, he was sleeping with Marianne for the better part of a year, or longer. If I were to take a guess, that’s why Tom brought the pistol because he was working up the courage to kill Bill with it. Humorously, it ends up in Janet’s possession and is likely used to to kill Marianne… who we still never see.
Overall, I can’t say that this movie is anything great, but it’s got quite a few moments that made it worth seeing. The acting is great, the chemistry is wonderful, and the insanity is pretty fun to watch. It’s no movie of the year, but it’s just might be worth seeing a second time to catch certain reactions that may not have been that big a deal the first time around, but may provide some extra oomph in a second viewing. I only hope that this movie comes out later in a more local theater because I had to travel forty minutes to see this thing. Worth it once, but not twice. And that’s how I’m going to recommend it. If you see it playing in your local cinema, check it out. If you like dark comedies, then this is a pretty fun watch. And, like I said, it’s only an hour and ten minutes long, so even if you don’t like it, not much of your time will be wasted. At the very least, if it’s not in your local cinema, then rent it. Grab a martini, grab some friends, and enjoy this comedic tragedy.
My honest rating for THE PARTY: 4/5