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To celebrate her long-awaited prestigious post as a Shadow Minister for Health and, hopefully, the stepping stone to party leadership, the newly-appointed British opposition politician, Janet, is throwing a party for friends at her London flat. Of course, in this select and intimate soirée, apart from Bill, Janet's self-denying academic husband, the elegant hostess has also invited a motley crew of elite, hand-picked guests: There's April, the sourly cynical American best friend; her unlikely German husband, Gottfried; there's also Jinny and Martha; and finally, Tom, the smooth banker in the impeccable suit. But inevitably, before dinner is served, the upbeat ambience will shatter to pieces, as festering secrets start surfacing, turning the otherwise happy event into the perfect domestic war-zone. Undoubtedly, after this night, things will never be the same again.Written by
The story of 'The Party' was unbeknownst to me upon my viewing of the film. All I knew was that it is directed by British Auteur Sally Potter and stars Kristen Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall and Cillian Murphy, which is the extent of context I will divulge here as I feel it is better to watch this film knowing very little about its narrative.
Although simplistic in its base narrative, underneath 'The Party' is a short, snappy, satirical view on the modern day socio-political climate. It paints the modern system of politics as ineffective at implementing change, suggesting a more immediate method is required in this day and age to keep up with such a rapidly changing world. The film succeeds and does this effectively through witty dialogue, articulately crafted Mise en Scene and a comedic narrative progression.
The narrative progression I refer to is the advancement of the characters into pure chaos after the guise of 'polite society' is stripped away, revealing the hypocrisy behind its ideals and presentation. This chaos is the crux of the film as it magnificently illustrates the futility of the mask that the upper class have created for themselves, which the film heightens through comedic elements giving the film a heavily satirical atmosphere.
Furthermore, the films caricatured characters play a crucial role in conveying the film's message as many of them are hypocrites, their real faces hiding behind the mask of what 'polite society' expects to see, with costume being cleverly utilised to convey to us the true thoughts and feelings of many of the characters whilst simultaneously acting as a red herring in some circumstances, illustrating how we cannot always know whether or not people are truly what they present themselves as, linking to another key message the film discusses: distrust in the political landscape.
However, although the film has a profound message, it suffers from being very simplistic on its surface. The story is cliché and predictable with a couple of drawn out dull moments, with the real meat of the film laying underneath, and whilst this is the case for most films, the surface has to be captivating at the same time in order to engage the audience. In this sense 'The Party' could be potentially divisive for audiences as the film runs the risk of appearing pretentious and dull for some viewers, which I can confirm as many left my screening of the film verbally disgruntled.
In conclusion, 'The Party' is an incredibly humorous, satirical take on modern day society's political landscape as well as the hypocrisy of 'polite society' and its bloated sense of self righteousness. Although it has its flaws, 'The Party' is a highly entertaining film with a punchy message that really sticks with you after you've left the theatre: indecision is the face of modern day politics, and that desperately needs to change.
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