The Party

Whether you’re a university-educated, chardonnay-sipping, goats cheese-eating, leftie/greenie inner-city dweller, or you just like to see such folk satirised, you’ll love this razor-sharp English comedy of manners.    

I did, and so did those of my friends who’ve seen it, probably because, being the type of people who go to the local boutique cinema to see such movies, we match one or more, and in some cases all (not mentioning any names) of the above. 

Kristen Scott-Thomas leads an ensemble of brilliant English character actors as Janet – a nervy, high-maintenance politico who’s just been elevated to shadow ministerial office (we presume they are all Labor voters) and is throwing the titular party to celebrate.  Meanwhile she is taking secretive phone calls which suggest marital infidelity.

Timothy Spall plays her husband – a classically-educated academic and collector of vintage vinyl records who seems to have something grave on his mind and will later make an announcement that will upstage his wife’s triumph.  

Cherry Jones plays Martha, a Women’s Studies professor and Janet’s oldest friend and cheerleader.  She’s accompanied by newly-acquired young wife Jinny, a trendy chef.  She too will upstage Janet with an announcement of her own. 

Jinny is played by Emily Mortimer, daughter of John, creator of Rumpole, and I was for a while distracted by trying to remember what the hell else I’d seen her in recently.   (I finally remembered: one of Hugh Grant’s suitors in Notting Hill, also the thin girl married for her money and status by the amoral social-climbing, Scarlett Johanssen-lusting tennis coach in Match Point.)

The same applied to Cillian Murphy, most recently seen as a young soldier in Dunkirk, and speaking of Scarlett Johanssen, he was her poor suitor Pieter in Girl With A Pearl Earring.  Here he plays Tom, a cocaine-snorting yuppie banker, whose wife Marianne is expected soon, and not only by him. 

German actor Bruno Ganz is so famous for playing Hitler in Downfall, and for all those subsequent ‘Hitler does his block’ memes, that I wasn’t distracted and was able to concentrate fully on his delicious turn as an aromatherapist and life coach and the now-despised husband of another of Janet’s female chums who presumably once found him exotic and profound. 

I won’t go on about the plot.  There are plenty of impeccably scripted and timed twists and turns, and many modern obsessions and foibles are skewered in this dark and funny satire. 

Five stars.