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--a motley crew of elite hand-picked guests have been invited: 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 will start surfacing in this perfect domestic war-zone. Undoubtedly, after this night, things will never be the same again.Written by
Shot in black and white and clocking in at just over an hour, it is one of the more original movies coming out of the Berlinale. Several elements stand out, like the production design by Carlos Conti (37°2 le matin) with its odd, detached feeling bringing to the movie, but also the daring cinematography by Aleksei Rodionov (Idi I smotri, Orlando!) combined with good editing makes the movie work.
So nice work in all sectors, but basically it is the actors who have to carry through in this dark comedy, somewhat difficult to define: Third screwball, third Woody Allen, and a third Britcom but definitely with a style of its own.
Potter herself gave the best synopsis by calling it a movie about ideals and convictions getting tested in a crisis situation. The really good script lines are dispersed among the excellent cast, although I do have a weakness for the role of Timothy Spall, such a great and modest actor, gripping the movie from the start onwards.
Why not rate this higher? I think it lacks a really great ambition, it is a nice ensemble piece, but despite the good things feels somewhat empty, more entertainment than art. The sum of the parts just doesn't add up enough for me, which often means the difference between OK and excellent.
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