This brittle exposure of bourgeoisie malaise and middle-class entitlement owes a debt to a myriad of influences, amongst them Mike Leigh, Chekhov and classic British cinema of the 60s. Marking Sally Potter’s return to the screen – the Orlando director’s last film was 2012’s Ginger and Rosa – this is a lean affair, set almost in one room. Yet the minimalist locations do little to contain magisterial peformances from the likes of Kristen Scott Thomas, Cillian Murphy and Timothy Spall.
Janet has just been achieved the crowning achievement of her political career. She and her husband Bill plan to celebrate this with a few close friends. As the guests arrive at their home in London the party takes an unexpected turn when Bill suddenly makes some explosive revelations that take everyone present by surprise. Love, friendships and political convictions are soon called into question..
While Potter is not well known for her comedy leanings, The Party shows she has a deft handle on farce and biting satire as the film trades in a number of brilliantly delivered one-liners and a finely judged level of physical comedy.
Shot during the weeks when the ‘Brexit’ referendum dominated the British headlines, the film echoes the spirit of a nation that is divided and unsure of its place in the world. But if that world is going to hell anyway, is there anything else to do but laugh?