There is a theme throughout focusing on making it a current and topical film with punchingly dark humour
The issue that The Party never seems to escape from, is its incessant attempts at socially intuitive comedy. There is a theme throughout focusing on making it a current and topical film with punchingly dark humour, yet all it manages to produce is a few smiles and a general unrelenting chaos. An idea that may well match up with the state of British politics but doesn’t make for a particularly interesting watch.
Janet (Kristen Scott Thomas) has just been promoted to Shadow Minister for Health in the British Parliament. Hosting a small party to celebrate, her husband Bill (Timothy Spall), seems a little off colour as the guests begin to arrive, but it is only when he makes a grand announcement does the party take a dramatic turn for the worse.
Overall, it is far too pretentious for its own good, and the choice to show the film in black and white doesn’t add anything to the simple set design or the exaggerated drama. It often feels too much like a theatre performance shown to the wrong audience and there is simply not enough time to understand the characters in their entirety, or at least enough, to make it a thrilling watch with a runtime shorter than a children’s animation.
Patricia Clarkson is far and away The Party’s highlight, with her understated, all-knowing nature, dripped in social understanding. The rest of the cast are either overly bleak or possess a sense of magnified exuberance. Too many of them sit at polar opposites to really make the unfolding drama interesting. For a political film, there is a drastic lack of politics.
It’s a naive and predictable story, that doesn’t necessarily show what was originally intended. The finished film should be better with the highly respected cast it boasts, and its comedy often misses the mark. The Party is a picture that obviously meant well, but had a vision far off from its own reality.