The Dinner Party
The world of Jessica and Luke is vomit inducingly perfect. Happy and cuddly sweethearts, they can’t believe their luck when Luke finally lands a transfer from London to Lancashire, meaning he can live with his snugglepuss without ever having to face an arduous weekend commute again. Keen to celebrate, Jess organises a dinner party with Luke and her friends intending to welcome Luke t’north, and is happy to accommodate the (rather convenient) film crew “documenting” Luke’s transfer – whose footage is, incidentally, our point of view for the duration.
A warm welcome
When the guests arrive, a dramatic narrative shift occurs and Jess and Luke become muted throughout the meal – taking up a large chunk of the film. Replacing them is the weight of conversation and drama between the mismatched dinner party guests, and it’s to these characters that our attention is shifted. As they settle down to eat, these seemingly simple characters begin to twist away from their prescribed personalities, and as the atmosphere becomes more and more tense, secrets start to flow as freely as the bargain wine. Clive, a haughty R.E teacher exposes his passion for dogging, ‘Dave’, a quiet female friend of Luke’s has an unprovoked rant against another guest, Mal, another of Luke’s friends, has sex with another guest and oddest of all, Beth, a young single mum, is intrigued by an invitation of lesbian fun.
Gasp! Gasp! Sigh. Gasp!
More than anything else, the sheer volume of these “surprises” horribly confuses the narrative, dilutes the drama of each one, and ends up reminding you of eating spaghetti; you’re happily sucking down one stringy line of pasta until you feel a tangle – and when look down into your bowl you see a mess of hundreds of other lines. You realise the dream of eating this bad boy one strand at a time is over.
Thank you for the music
It’s been said that the soundtrack of The Dinner Party is the best since Trainspotting, and you know what, whilst this praise sounds exaggerated for a low budget film, it’s not far off. A host of grass roots indie bands provide the music and beef up the production values by injecting some much needed emotion into it. The only problem is that, in comparison to Trainspotting, the pace of The Dinner Party is almost non-existent. A continually energised soundtrack, whilst suiting the turbulent events of a drug-fuelled 90s Edinburgh, doesn’t sit quite as well with two hours of staring at a kitchen table.
The Dinner Party is a good outing for many of the emerging talents in the film and has some brilliant dramatic touches, particularly the final scenes when the horrible truth is finally exposed. It’s ultimately an interesting debut project that everyone involved should be proud of, but sadly its awkward storyline undermines its other successes.