Older Rusters and readers may remember The Wednesday Play an often obscure dramatic venture into the avant garde on BBC. I felt the same slightly bored detachment that I experienced watching it as I did during The Party. This might be because it was filmed in black and white and set in the confined location of a house in North London. Despite its short length of 71 minutes there were longeur moments but these were redeemed for me by the superb performance of Kristin Scott Thomas (Janet) and a very surprising twist right at the end.
Kristin Scott Thomas plays a politician promoted to Shadow Health Minister and gives a dinner party to celebrate. The guests are April (Patricia Clarkson), an irritating know-all who is given the funniest lines, her partner a loathsome life coach Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), an equally unattractive young financier Tom (Cillian Murphy) who arrives with a pistol and immediately goes to the toilet to do a line of coke and a lesbian couple, the younger partner Jinny (Emily Mortimer) of which is giving birth to triplets.
However the central relationship is between Janet and Bill (Tim Spall) who announces during the party he has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Billed as a political comedy, it’s more about the fluidity and diversity of contemporary relationships and fidelity with some added humour and discussion of private health care.
However I did admire the surprise of the final shot – in every sense.
Sally Potter, an esteemed independent, wrote and directed the film. The same screenwriter and director can result in a tighter end product. Judging by a half empty movie theatre on a blustery Saturday evening it does not look like a commercial success. The audience did laugh on occasion but the main emotion was stupefaction at the ending when they remained transfixed in their seats right through the final credits.