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‘The Party’ has great cast, somewhat negligible story

In its themes and tone, it resembles a minor-league distillation of Edward Albee and Woody Allen.

Patricia Clarkson in THE PARTY
Roadside Attractions
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  • Peter Rainer
    Film critic

Writer-director Sally Potter’s “The Party” is a brisk, black-and-white, worst-possible-case dinner party scenario overflowing with good actors and bad vibes. In its themes and tone, it resembles a minor-league distillation of Edward Albee and Woody Allen, but at least there are those performers to look at: Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall, Bruno Ganz, Patricia Clarkson, Cillian Murphy, Cherry Jones, and Emily Mortimer.

Scott Thomas is playing Janet, recently appointed to the position of England’s new shadow minister of health, and her guests are a motley crew of civilized savages. Ganz is very funny as Gottfried, the befuddled “life coach” who attempts to rouse Janet’s husband, played by Spall, out of a morbid stupor. As Gottfried’s girlfriend, Clarkson has the most viperish quips. Pistols are proffered, drugs are ingested, and alarming personal confessions arrive right on cue. It’s all somewhat negligible, but not unfunny. I hope Potter does not intend us to take these carryings-on for a microcosm of bourgeois British ills. Grade: B- (Rated R for language and drug use.)

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