Loved this! Don't know why I should be attracted to films which feature a brace of squabbling individuals, particularly those superficially maintaining a strong, loving relationship but, once what is under the surface is revealed, they demonstrate themselves to be people who will readily 'scratch the eyes out' of their partners as well as of all those around. I find it most entertaining to witness, often hilariously so. Perhaps it might have something to do with my never having been in such a position myself, and if I had experienced it I would find it more painful.
Sally Potter, a director/writer never to be ignored ('Orlando', 'The Tango Lesson') comes up trumps again with this latest which, at a mere one hour ten minutes, must be about the shortest main feature I have ever seen. If I wish it had been just a little bit longer, even just by a quarter hour (and how often do I say that?) I have to admit that it finishes at just the right moment.
Set in real, continuous time, and filmed in b/w, it features just seven players in the single setting of the home of married Kristen Scott Thomas with hubby Timothy Spall, the latter silently morose, drinking and playing jazz records, while she is single-handedly making preparations for the expected gathering to celebrate her elevation to the post of government minister. The invited guests start to arrive - a marvellously acid-tongued Patricia Clarkson, with husband Bruno Ganz who keeps inappropriately spouting New Age aphorisms which she wearily dismisses as claptrap - their relationship is clearly already well withering. Then a lesbian couple, Cherry Jones and Emily Mortimer, the former expecting triplets (!) - and then finally, a nervy, coke-snorting Cillian Murphy, arrives, apologising for the delayed arrival of his wife.
Formal courtesies are exchanged and social dignities are aimed at - until Timothy Spall makes a disclosure which may explain his taciturnity - and then things rapidly begin to unravel, not just for him but impacting on every one of the group - and fur starts to fly!
It took about 15 minutes for my first smile to arrive, and a few minutes later came the first of my many laughs - and they then came thick and fast. (I have to say that a good number of the large audience were well ahead of me in this respect). I was thoroughly entertained by watching these characters haplessly trying to maintain composure, though with futility. I thought the script was strong, the acting as near-perfection as one could wish - I'd single out both Kristen S.T. and Patricia Clarkson in particular - but, oh, I do wish it had gone on just a little bit longer.
It's one of those very rare films that left me longing for more, (which itself must be a first!). Having said that, I did make a well-satisfied, smiling exit......................8.
2 hours ago