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The dinner-party-from-hell genre is delivered a short sharp shock by veteran British writer-director Sally Potter in this gleaming black comedy. Kristin Scott Thomas is hosting a group of friends to celebrate her promotion as shadow Minister of Health, elegantly juggling dinner preparation, congratulatory calls and surreptitious messaging from a lover. Husband Timothy Spall plays aggressive DJ, otherwise upright but catatonic in the living room as the guests arrive. These include her best friend (Patricia Clarkson, wryly acidic), her life-coach boyfriend (Bruno Ganz, wondrously inane), a coked-up venture capitalist (Cillian Murphy) who arrives sans wife, and an earnest lesbian couple (Emily Mortimer and Cherry Jones) intent on sharing some good news. Silly them.
“It’d poop The Party, so to speak, to reveal anything further – though this is less a plot-based exercise than a tipsily conversational one. Potter’s eminently quotable screenplay works up just enough narrative momentum to sustain a barrage of killer one-liners: With the hors d’oeuvres increasingly unlikely to be served, decorum is swiftly shed and these privileged vultures instead feed ravenously on each other’s ideals...
One shouldn’t pull a muscle, however, in reaching for the subtext of Potter’s witty shaggy-dog story: Its giddy in-the-moment pleasures are enough... Months after the US election campaign turned an intended jibe into a rallying cry, Sally Potter’s latest further proves that there’s pleasure, pride or both to be taken in being a nasty woman.”— Guy Lodge, Variety