Film Review: The Party

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PATRICIA Clarkson, Cillian Murphy, Timothy Spall and Kristin Scott Thomas get more than their just deserts in British director Sally Potter’s dark comedy of manners, which is competing for big prizes in Berlin.

A gathering of old friends fasten their seatbelts for a bumpy night of explosive revelations in The Party, a Berlin competition contender from veteran British writer-director Sally Potter. Potter’s talk-heavy chamber farce was filmed on a West London studio set in just two weeks, which may help explain its adrenalized energy and lean running time.

Attractively shot in black and white, The Party is indebted to a long tradition of dinner-party-from-hell classics including Mike Nichols’ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Luis Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen. Alas, Potter never musters the same taboo-trashing satirical bite as these cinematic landmarks. Despite touching on some edgy themes, The Party is ultimately a conventional comedy of social manners. How very British.

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