Review: Bickering characters little more than caricatures in The Party

Timothy Spall as Bill in Sally Potter's The Party. Photo: Picturehouses Entertainment

Timothy Spall as Bill in Sally Potter's The Party. Photo: Picturehouses Entertainment - Credit: Picturehouses Entertainment

Starry cast including Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall, Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer and Cillian Murphy in Sally Potter's black and white satire of contemporary social mores, which unfolds in real time.

Kristin Scott Thomas and Timothy Spall lead the cast in The Party. Photo: Picturehouses Entertainmen

Kristin Scott Thomas and Timothy Spall lead the cast in The Party. Photo: Picturehouses Entertainment - Credit: Picturehouses Entertainment

The Party (15)

***

Back in the 60s, The Party was a freewheeling Blake Edwards comedy with Peter Sellers doing his best Goodness-Gracious-Me Indian, causing chaos at a shindig in a state of the art house in the Hollywood Hills.

Sally Potter's remake has turned it into a black and white tragi-comedy set in what looks to be a surprisingly dingy basement flat in North London in which six ghastly middle class liberal intelligentsia characters (and a banker) bicker.

Sally Potter’s black and white satire of contemporary social mores The Party unfolds in real time. P

Sally Potters black and white satire of contemporary social mores The Party unfolds in real time. Photo: Picturehouses Entertainment - Credit: Picturehouses Entertainment


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It's political correctness gone mad, isn't it?

It is the custom in these kind of dos to involve cracks gradually appearing in the facade of polite society. In this film though there is no facade of polite society, just bitter figures spitting abuse and insults at each other from the off, which takes the fun out of it a bit.

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Nobody here is afraid of Virginia Woolf; they wouldn't wait for her to sit down before condemning her as a bourgeois sell out.

The film has enough vim and vigour to entertain but having gathered such a splendid cast, including Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall, Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer and Cillian Murphy, Potter's script doesn't really give them the material they deserve.

These figures are little more than caricatures – Murphy's banker comes along and goes straight to the loo to do a line of coke. And because there's nothing much to them, then there isn't much to all those supposedly cutting remarks that fly around.

But there is something very telling about getting such a preposterously talented cast to perform in such a modest surrounding, a single location shot in two weeks: it mirrors perhaps the gap between our national reality and our perception.

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