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Thursday 27 July 2017

The Party, Film UK (2017), written and directed by Sally Potter, 8.5* out of 10

Oscar nominated writer and director Sally Potter has assembled a stellar cast of British actors at the top of their game to deliver a witty, entertaining and devastating piece of criticism of the current state of a London liberal left elite in a turbulent display of their less than stable social, political and sexual orientations. 

Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) is preparing a small dinner party for friends to celebrate her nomination to shadow health secretary. As she parries the various congratulatory callers while preparing the chicken vol-au-vents, her husband Bill (Timothy Spall) seems preoccupied. Staring into space, he is getting seriously drunk while playing an eclectic mix of music at high volume on his 1960s-style record player. The first guest to arrive is Janet’s formerly idealistic, now sarcastic friend April (Patricia Clarkson) and her German esoteric life coach partner Gottfried (Bruno Ganz). Soon to be joined by University professor Martha (Cherry Jones) and partner Jinny (Emily Mortimer) the latter of child bearing age and disposition. Investment banker Tom (Cillian Murphy) turns up without his wife Marianne and is even more hyper than usual. The somewhat frayed relationship among the couples will be subjected to a steadily rising crescendo of turbulence as revelations begin to made and Gottfried the imperturbable, sweetly smiling German esoteric decides to try and calm the stormy atmosphere with the strong dose of the kind of vacuous banalities that is sure to drive even the most docile English stoic to contemplating bloody murder.

Filmed in the UK over a period of just two weeks in June 2016, writer and director Sally Potter’s film delivers a hard-hitting critique of the leftish liberal intellectual elite at home in the trendy and comfortable districts of North London (Islington, Hampstead). At the heart of the success of this film is Potters sharp and witty screenplay brought to life by excellent direction and top performances by an ensemble of excellent actors at the top of their game.  The outstanding black and white cinematography by Aleksei Rodionov puts the action into full relief.

Sally Potter has described The Party as a tragedy wrapped in a comedy.  It also is a devastating social commentary delivered in witty and entertaining style. 

The packed audience at the Swiss avant-premiere in Zurich’s Le Paris cinema loved it. The enthusiastic applause for Sally Potter and Bruno Ganz who joined them for Q&A led by local film-maven Marcy Goldberg after the session was genuine and well deserved.


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