A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Party is a dark ensemble dramedy in which seven characters gather for a dinner party, where a great deal of arguing and nastiness ensues. Teens aren't likely to be interested, but adults with a very specific sense of humor may enjoy it. In addition to all of the yelling and verbal sparring, a gun is drawn (though not fired), a character is punched and knocked unconscious, broken glass cuts into someone's skin, a woman slaps a man, and some blood is shown. Married characters are said to be having affairs with others. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bastard," and more. A supporting character uses cocaine on more than one occasion; social drinking is shown. Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson, Cherry Jones, and Timothy Spall co-star.
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What's the story?
In THE PARTY, Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) is planning a get-together to celebrate her ascension to minister for health. While she prepares food and secretly texts with a mysterious, illicit lover, her husband, Bill (Timothy Spall), drinks wine and absently listens to records. Guests begin to arrive, including the cynical April (Patricia Clarkson) and her partner, the calm spiritual healer Gottfried (Bruno Ganz); pregnant Jinny (Emily Mortimer) and her partner, Martha (Cherry Jones); and finally Tom (Cillian Murphy), who's amped up on cocaine and carrying a gun. Much arguing and revealing of secrets ensues -- until one angry partyer gets ahold of Tom's gun.
Is it any good?
This playlike dramedy is sharp and good-looking (in black and white), but it's also shrill and aggressive, hurling nasty, witty barbs at the speed of suffering; it's smart without being thoughtful. The humor in The Party seems to be based on subtle differences in political preferences, though the movie does little to explain or describe these differences. What remains is a collection of selfish, repellent behaviors. (Only Ganz' "healer" character seems kind and calm, but even he tends to respond to others with platitudes, rather than actually listening.)
The Party recalls Beatriz at Dinner, a movie that did take time out to explore its characters' personal and political motivations. That film came up with a more interesting clash, although, to be fair, The Party has a much more concise, ironic, and satisfying ending. It runs only 71 minutes, which is refreshing, but perhaps it could have been longer, adding some silences and moments to explore and reflect? It's a disappointment, coming from talented English director Sally Potter (Orlando, The Man Who Cried, Ginger & Rosa), who likes to take risks but whose movies are usually more involving.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Party's use of violence. How much is physical violence, and how much is psychological? Which seems to hurt the characters more?
What are the movie's themes? What do you think it's really about? What is it saying about these people -- or about all of us?
How does the movie's use of black-and-white help or hinder it?
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