The Party’s title is a pun on both its setting – a modest house party celebrating Janet’s (Kristen Scott Thomas’) promotion in the British Parliament – and the character’s loyalty (or lack thereof) to Janet’s political party (an unnamed stand-in for Labor). If that pun strikes you as the height of wit, then you might be in the target audience for the film. If not…well, you have a rough 68 minutes awaiting you.
There’s a kernel of a decent film in The Party, which attempts to parody the oblivious hypocrisy of ageing leftists who’ve abandoned their political principles beyond espousing them at dinner parties. But the attempts at satire are so clumsily blatant, as though working from a first draft where they forgot to precede the text with ‘sub’, that it’s only going to appeal to blue-rinse boomers with a blinkered view of politics largely unchanged since the seventies.
Nor does it help that the dramaturgy is flaccid, relying heavily on an easily-guessed, entirely-unilluminating twist. The cast is laden with stars – Cillian Murphy, Timothy Spall, Emily Mortimer – but only Patricia Clarkson has a sense of how to make this material work: by underlining its absurdity with overacting. Don’t RSVP to this one.