The Party

I fear Patricia Clarkson’s judgment. Like many moviegoers, I first took notice of the actress when she played Eleanor Fine, a conservative white housewife in 1950s Connecticut, in Todd Haynes’s revisionist melodrama Far From Heaven (2002). Eleanor’s friend Cathy has fallen in love with a black man, and a pivotal moment in the story arrives when Eleanor finally pieces the truth together and fixes her old friend with an ice-cold stare. Her expression lands like a slap, communicating instantly that Cathy is about to lose not only her closest confidante (apart from her lover) but also her social standing. Clarkson was much praised for her performance, winning best supporting actress awards from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics. Since then she’s enjoyed a healthy film career as a bitch for hire, though seldom in a vehicle so witty and cerebral as Sally Potter’s drawing-room comedy The Party. Continue reading>>