(out of 5)
Kristin Scott Thomas has just been named England’s Health Minister and has invited a few friends over to celebrate. She barely has placed food in the oven before the guests arrive and drop truth bombs that make her achievement seem insignificant by comparison: her old friend Patricia Clarkson is on the verge of divorce from husband Bruno Ganz, happy couple Emily Mortimer and Cherry Jones have glad news to share, and soulless banker Cillian Murphy is aggravated about something that he plans to deal with using the gun hidden in his jacket. The most devastating revelation comes from Timothy Spall as Scott Thomas’s husband, spilling secrets that send the gathering from impolite, barbed comments to full warfare complete with punching, slapping and vomiting. Sally Potter sets this miniature feature in a confined space and emphasizes theatrical dialogue and performance that is pulled off in a genuine manner by skilled actors, who insert enough human vulnerability into Potter’s not-too-subtle commentary on modern day British issues (the NHS, capitalism, etc) to avoid the film becoming as archly symbolic as Insignificance. Where it actually falters is in being far too short in length and effect, its characters and situations having little development beyond a second act. Clarkson’s is the only character who has a tangible evolution, beginning as the aggravating cynic with an acid tongue who turns out to be the most useful and practical of the bunch, while the rest barely get warmed up before an abrupt ending that feels straight out of a student-made short.
Directed by Sally Potter
Screenplay by Sally Potter
Cinematography by Aleksei Rodionov
Music by Matt Biffa
Production Design by Carlos Conti
Costume Design by Jane Petrie