Friday, April 3, 2020

Many Faces of a Woman

The Party (2017) - Potter
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Sally Potter's big ensemble chamber piece The Party has a Thomas Vinterberg's The Celebration vibe. Both take place in a confined one house setting where its participants are exorcising their demons as the party/celebration progresses. But The Party handles it in a more mature tone; it doesn't put the blame on one patriarchal monster, instead, it spreads its blames around. And unlike unrelenting emotional manipulation of its Swedish counterpart, The Party, even with the plenty of cynicism and twists and turns, is uproariously funny and each characterization is superb, embodied by Kristen Scott Thomas, Tim Spall, Patricia Clarkson, Bruno Ganz, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer and Cillian Murphy. It takes swipes at every archetype - unemotional career-driven woman politician, an old predatory academic and a student, a foreign mystic, a raging venture capitalist, a cynic who has something terrible to say about everyone.

Potter's reflections on what it means to be a career woman is in full display in Thomas's Janet, a politician who just achieved her goal of becoming a minister, while neglecting on her own marriage. Clarkson shines as April, Janet's best friend and a designated party pooper, spouting cynical comments to everyone and everywhere. She is the realist counterpart of the idealist Janet. Her cynicism is her only defense from hurt and heartache and defeat in life. Martha (professor played by Jones) and younger chef wife Jinny (Mortimer) are having babies (triplets) but the difference in their social background and age and sexual orientation give plenty of challenges staying together. 

Men, on the other hand - characterized as a submissive supporter- 'behind every great woman, there is a man' type, an aging hippie whose ideas are in vogue again against topsy-turvy world, and a hot-blooded capitalist, huddle together on the floor, like a wimping animals surrounded by female 'hysterics'.

The Party is a sharply observed, fun chamber piece that highlights Potter as a fine writer of human experiences that only can be learned from first hand life experience.

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