Seven people have a get-together to celebrate one's success, but as it turns out, everybody has something big to reveal.
Starring Kristen Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson, Timothy Spall, Cillian Murphy, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer and Bruno Ganz, or shortly: one helluva cast of screen veterans. And they really can bring out the best of this material.
The famous names aside, the movie itself is a nice little surprise too: a nuanceful black comedy / morality play, which turns out to be both witty and deep, and lasts for only 71 minutes, including the credits!
I have long wished for shorter movies, in this day and age seemingly nobody thinks it could be done in less than two hours or something.
"The Party" is comedy, but not of "LOL" and "ha-ha" variety, engaging the audience with subtlety and style.
It not gonna satisfy everybody, nothing does, but the project has excelled on its own terms and within set limits: an artsy comedy with a strong message.
After couple of minutes in the beginning, which I needed to acclimate to the writer-director Sally Potter's distinctive style, I found a lot to like about the movie.
This is a story-based movie, which means that actors are used as devices in service of the material, not as the stars around which everything has to revolve.
Everyone gives a noteworthy, enjoyable performance despite just having a mission to fill a part in bigger mosaic. People know their place, adapt well to others, have something unique to offer. It couldn't be done as effectively by just any seven actors, but all seven are, of course, well known and respected names in their field.
"The Party" is also a great example of how theatrical approach can fit well into a movie. Take note, most of the Estonian movie makers! Yes, it's theatrical - evident in style, but also for taking place in one small and relatively tight location - but it sounds and feels like a proper movie.
Thirdly - what I always enjoy a lot - "The Party" is surprisingly deep, especially for such a short work which could easily get by just concentrating on events and characters.
The story speaks of the importance of truth and reconciliation, which are essential to really live a life, instead of "building" one, as most of the characters here have preferred.
Life is always changing and attemps to force things to be and stay in certain way don't bring you readiness to change, to be open to whatever happens next. And shutting yourself into a self-created box will bring pain and inconveniency when life forces to step out of it.
I also liked the way how the events and scenes deal with relationships but constantly re-focus on showing how the life is always changing and there's no black-or-white truth to be found here.
So I would call it a spiritual story as well, but Potter has not tried to force the viewer to accept her way of thinking or perspective. In fact, the only character not interested in "clear and rational" thinking has been mostly used as a comic relief.
I also like how compact the movie is. There's not an ounce of filler, writer-director Sally Potter must have known exactly what to say/show and how to bring it onto the screen. This precision helps to create a nice mix of suspense and comedy.
All in all, I very much liked "The Party". And you will, too, if you can get accustomed to its style and brand of humor. Can you? You will know after just five minutes of watching, so no wasting time here, too.