The Party ★★

A tepid farce that that combines the brevity of a one-act play with the lo-fi desperation of a student film, “The Party” is the kind of star-studded misfire that might only have made sense in the context of an artistic movement like Dogme 95, whose strict dictums could have explained its experimental zeal and excused its fundamental shabbiness. Of course, such formal recklessness is par for the course when it comes to the cinema of Sally Potter, a British dynamo whose work ranges from a radical adaptation of Virgina Woolf’s “Orlando” to an erotic Joan Allen drama that’s spoken entirely in iambic pentameter. But if the dazzling eccentricities of Potter’s previous films might help to prepare viewers for her latest trick, their intellectual rigor casts this new one in a strange and unflattering light. It’s different, yes, and made with conviction. But it also feels flimsy, hollow, and tossed off — a shrill trifle from someone who’s previously made only multi-tiered soufflés.

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