Movies like The Party – are beyond rare. Close box movies, that are high on dialogue and acting, are amazing… and are a pedigree of movies that I could do exclusively. I could eschew all other kinds of movies in order to only diet on high dialogue, high concept, closed box goodness. You can have your Marvel movies, your tiring Hollywood retreads, and I’ll go with the vegan diet of movies like the Party instead. ; . You think I’m hyperbolizing here? I promise, promise you I am not. And it is because it’s impossible to have a closed box movie without great dialogue, brilliant ideas, amazing acting, and fantastic twists. But most movies today are severely lacking these couple of attributes.
You know? No, probably not. Because most closed box movies are incredibly unpopular. So I am nigh on certain that you haven’t heard of The Party. So, yes, you are welcome. Now, go watch it…. then come back.
And because all I do here on THiNC is talk to my best friends (you), about these crazy cool movies that we are watching together… if you haven’t seen this movie yet, stop reading. Why? Because this movie is fantastic, and I want you to give the creators your 3$, and for you to experience it. That way, maybe the creators will have a little more cash to make The Party 2, or what have you, and that we could then talk about that one too. So don’t lobotomize this great flick by reading this.
One of the things that I adore about The Party is that each of these characters have a raison d’etre, a prime mover, a reason that is just so obvious that it’s literally painted on their faces. Which, I have to say, is great acting. So, instead of a walk though of the film, I want to talk about each character of the film, and learn about the direction and the drivers for the movie through the eyes of the characters.
Character Study of The Party
Janet – (Kristin Scott Thomas) – The Party is being thrown for Janet, who apparently has just won an election for Health Minister. She has been unflaggingly fighting for this position the last couple years and has finally won. She has basically ignored her husband, Bill, the last few years in the process. And, it would also seem, that she might be having an affair along the way.
Bill – (Timothy Spall) – Bill happens to be the husband of Janet. He quit his job as a professor in order to support her attempt for the role as minister. But apparently he is dying of cancer. Oh, and he too is having an affair on the side.
April – (Patricia Clarkson) – April went to school with Janet and Martha, and was involved actively in the effort to drive for change politically, until she became disenchanted with the process. April is married to Gottfried, and she will soon be divorcing him. By far, April is the funniest character in the movie.
Gottfried – (Bruno Ganz) – It would appear that Gottfried is a faith healer, and a life coach that speaks in unironic bumper sticker speak that drives April to drink. Literally.
Martha – (Cherry Jones) – Martha is one of the classmates of Janet and April. She is a women’s studies professor, and she is supportive of Janet’s political drive for change and the larger women’s movement. She is gay, and her SO is Jinny. She’s afraid of change, and the recent news from Jinny may just unhinge her.
Jinny – (Emily Mortimer) – Jinny is Martha’s significant other, and at the start of the movie decides to announce that she and Martha are pregnant with triplets.
Tom – (Cillian Murphy) – A banker. But more importantly, it would seem that Tom is married to Mary Anne. Oh, and Tom is all in a twist because he just found out that his wife was having an affair. Oh, did I mention that Tom has brought a gun to kill the guy that she is having an affair with?
Marianne – (N/A) – We’ll discuss her more at the end.
Now, drop those characters into a bucket, and shake it vigorously and lets see what comes out! Hahaha. Which is why I adore the movie Tape. Take 2 previously best friends from school, add a horrible circumstance, drop in the girl that the horrible experience happened to, shake, and then pour. Brilliance.
Quick Party Overview
I can’t personally think of eight less likely people to come together for a party. But here we have it. And it would appear that Janet is throwing a small get together with some of her friends after campaigning and winning the position of Health Minister. (If some of my British friends could explain what that role is, I’d be enormously grateful!)
As the movie starts, Janet is taking congratulatory calls and her husband Bill is drinking, playing music loudly and staring off into space. Gottfried tries his best to get Bill to talk, but Bill is having none of it. And Tom? When Tom arrives, he immediately locks himself in the bathroom and begins snorting cocaine prodigiously. We learn soon that Marianne will be along later. Soon we see that Janet is exchanging texts, and calls with a secret lover. But soon Jinny and Martha decide to share the news that Jinny is pregnant with three boys. Martha is obviously adrift by this news. But the party is thrown off even more by Bill’s news, which is that he is dying and doesn’t have long to live now. But Gottfried, a healer and a guru, begins trying to convince Bill that modern medicine is no place for him to put his trust.
And then, out of the blue, Janet decides she won’t take the role as Health Minister, that instead she’ll stay home and care for Bill. She even lets her clandestine lover know that the relationship is off. Then, out of the blue, Bill informs the party attendees that he is not staying with Janet any longer, but instead, will be living with his fling, Marianne. Which brings us to Tom… who had just found out about the affair earlier in the day by reading Marianne’s text messages. But with the diagnosis news… Tom throws the gun away. Janet finds the gun minutes later and stashes it away.
Gottfried tries to do his best to calm Bill and let him know that he has a future, but it spirals out of control when Bill proclaims his love for Marianne. At which point, Tom punches Bill square in the face and basically kills the poor old man. But Janet manages to resuscitate her husband, and when he awakes he says, “How did it come to this?” At which point, the doorbell rings, and Janet grabs the gun, runs to the door and points the gun at the visitor and proclaims, “You told me you loved me. Me! You traitor!”
Who Was At the Door?
There was a scene, where Bill basically belittled Tom for undervaluing Marianne. She knew true intellectual insights and learning. She was an academic’s academic. She was insightful, witty and charming. And all of those character traits were wasted on Tom. Tom the banker, the neophyte. Which is funny, because Janet too was having an affair with someone that she found charming and supportive of her liberal ideas and agenda. And we also know that Janet was floored when Bill tells her that he is leaving her for Marianne, right? And when April and Janet were in the bathroom talking, we know that Janet almost shared a secret with April, but ultimately didn’t because her husband was dead in the front room, right?
So who was at the door? Well, Marianne, of course. Marianne, that was married with Tom. Marianne that was shacking up with Bill at April’s home during the campaign. Marianne, that was apparently visiting Janet on the campaign trail. Marianne apparently was the bell of the ball.
What Does it Mean?
There are probably a million different lenses through which you could view this movie. But the one that I am going with? Marianne was a Muse. You know, one of the nine Greek goddesses of inspiration in literature and the arts? They were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. And were invoked by the Greeks as the creators of true inspiration. The muses covered all the different areas of learning, Math, Science, Music… each had a different Muse that inspired those studying in the various academies.
And as we saw from half the attendees at the party, Marianne was obviously a true bringer of inspiration and insight. Marianne was obviously loved by Tom, because knowledge of the affair brought him to a peak of anger, enough that he was ready to kill Bill. (hahaha, see what I did there? Hahaha.) And Janet? Marianne obviously assisted her on the road towards her long desired goal of Health Minister. And Bill? He saw her as the modern muse of all academia. He saw her as insightful, charming, and extraordinarily talented. Marianne was the muse each of these people needed most. She was unseen, like the muses. She was inspirational from afar. And I’m not sure if you know this or not, but Muses were also considered or called water nymphs. And what did water nymphs do in their spare time but lure passing travelers under the water to their death. And, it would seem that Marianne was luring several of the party attendees under the water, and onwards towards their deaths!
I know that I am correct in my view of what the movie means, but if you ask Sallie Potter, the writer and director of the film… she seems to have a bit of a different meaning: “It became about what it really means to be on the left, what it means to be effective, what it means to effect change, all of those things.” Apparently, Potter wanted to look into the various tensions running through our world right now, but to investigate them in a contained canvas. “Part of the project was to go back to cinematic bare bones,” she explained. “Strip away everything other than characters dealing with those difficult things in their lives, but do it lightly. And have that be a microcosm of wider, quite heavy and difficult times politically.” Which, I guess, I’ll allow her to have her own opinion… but my Muse theory is way the heck better! hahah.
Other Closed Box Movies You Might Enjoy
I get asked for movie recommendations daily. Literally daily. And if you actually enjoyed this, then you probably will also enjoy these other closed box movies that I have reviewed here on THiNC. Check them out and let me know what you think.
What are your thoughts on The Party? Did you enjoy it even half as much as I did? Do. Tell. DAhling.