David Lee Roth once said that music critics hate Van Halen and like Elvis Costello, because critics look like Elvis Costello.
Well, I think critics like movies like The Party because they’re bourgeois boobs like the dinner guests in The Party. No other reason could explain its high score on Rotten Tomatoes, when my wife and I just sat there unamused. Now, good conversation and fights can be fun on screen. I’m thinking of last year’s Beatriz at Dinner, The Big Chill, Peter’s Friends, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, etc.
The only thing I liked about this movie was Kristin Scott Thomas’ performance. I’ve loved her since I first saw her over 20 years ago in The English Patient (I didn’t remember her character in Four Weddings and a Funeral a few years prior). She’s been great in everything since, so it’s a shame she wasn’t given a very good script.
She plays Janice, an ambitious politician who has just been appointed minister for health. Dinner guests arrive and congratulate her, while she discreetly takes phone calls from a lover. Her husband (Timothy Sprall) is in the other room, morosely playing various songs on a stereo (nice to hear “I’m a Man” by Muddy Waters).
Janice’s best friend April is played by Patricia Clarkson, one of the top 5 actresses working today. And it’s this cast that also makes this the most disappointing movie I’ll see this year.
Janice’s husband Gottfried (Bruno Ganz, who played Hitler in Downfall) spouts off new age one-liners that aren’t the least bit interesting.
Cillian Murphy is a banker, who has to run to the bathroom every five minutes for a snort.
There’s a lesbian couple (Cherry Jones and Emily Mortimer), who should be offensive to lesbians everywhere (but then, Asians didn’t seem so bothered by a horribly stereotypical character in Downsizing).
Soon enough, we learn about why Spall is so sad. I won’t spoil it.
Aleksei Rodionov delivers some handsomely shot scenes, although I’m not sure why it’s in black-and-white.
It all feels like a play, and not a very good one. Thankfully, it’s only 70 minutes long (despite the fact that it felt 700 minutes long).
British filmmaker Sally Porter had nothing to say with this script, and it’s not the least bit funny; but she gave us the horrible Ginger and Rosa (Elle Fanning, Annette Bening, and again with Timothy Spall), so I shouldn’t have expected much.
You know when you’re at a really lame birthday party and you want to leave, but…you haven’t been there that long. They haven’t even cut the cake, and everyone will see you leave. So you grit your teeth and stay, hating every minute of it. When you get a piece of the cake, it’s not that good either. Well, this “party” is kind of like that, except my wife and I were able to just turn it off. Even though it only had 8 minutes to go before it was over, we didn’t want to waste another second with these people.