This clever and stylish black-and-white satire from Sally Potter plays out like a drawing-room comedy with on point performances from the cream of British actors.
The opening scene, before the credits, is an ambiguous one; we see a woman open a door and draw a gun. This woman, we discover, is newly elected Shadow Minister of Health Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) and a small party of close friends is gathering at her home to celebrate the appointment. Her husband Bill (Timothy Spall) is drunk and morose. Friend April (Patricia Clarkson) is acerbic and cynical, scathing of her partner Gottfried (Bruno Ganz). Bill’s friend Martha (Cherry Jones) and her partner Jenny (Emily Mortimer) arrive with an announcement and Tom (Cillian Murphy) appears in an intense state of agitation but without his wife Maryann. And so the stage is set.
The dialogue is witty and machine gun rapid; sometimes the laughter in the cinema was so loud the next quip was lost. Each character is a distinct stereotype but the actors play it so straight and with such skill it never seems superficial nor descends into farce. There is drama, a little melodrama, some great music and many pithy comments on British politics, society, the class system, ideology, ageing and capitalism. And of course the National Health.
The ending is a cracker.
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