The Party (CIFF 2017)

I wonder if we can make “chamber film” its own genre. It would refer to movies that take place exclusively or almost entirely in one location and, whether adapted from one or not, could conceivably be plays. It’s just a description right now; let’s make it a genre. The Party is one of those, putting a bunch of actors in one house and pretty much just making them talk among themselves for the entire running time. And since that running time is only approximately 70 minutes, it doesn’t last long enough to overstay its welcome.

The Party begins with a celebration. It ends … not so much. One character, Janet (Kristen Scott Thomas) invites a bunch of other people over to celebrate news, learns that many of them also have news, and then finds out that her husband (Timothy Spall) might have even bigger news. Various motivations—political and personal—become clear as the film goes on, and it eventually spirals out of control. Most of the dialogue is funny and charged, delivered at a rapid-fire rate by top-notch actors.

The Party isn’t the most original film you’ll see—similar “people talk in one location and that eventually leads to something more than talking” movies exist—but it’s enjoyable. And, if you know your modern British politics, it’ll be even more of a riot. “The Party” means more than just the thing these people are attending. Characters are less people and more caricatures, but they’re performed well—the actors give them more life than the script, at times. There’s some tension, there are lots of laughs, and the black-and-white cinematography gives it a novel look. The Party is a short but fun ride.

Conclusion: The Party is a fun, not particularly memorable movie.

Recommendation: Black comedy, politics, and potential violence make The Party a movie that might be worth your time.

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