The Party: the main issue with Sally Potter’s chamber piece is that the whole web of relationships (with one notable exception) is so strained that an important, intimate celebration (as this one is supposed to be) with this particular group is very hard to swallow. On top of that, there is an unconvincing glut of events at work, specially considering the short run time. None of the dialogue is particularly remarkable, but that doesn’t keep the cast from chewing the scenery. They are great, and clearly having fun; Patricia Clarkson gets most of the few good lines and runs away with it; Kristin Scott Thomas, the closest thing to a central character, gets the largest range to play and does it well. Cinematographer Aleksei Rodionov masks well the restricted setting (and avoids the sense of filmed theatre) with a dynamic camera and unusual angles, all in beautiful black-and-white; there’s also some nice symbolism in the lighting. The soundtrack uses a varied, and welcome, choice of songs.