Writer-director Sally Potter (Orlando) roped in a solid cast for this blessedly brief yet utterly annoying black-and-white drama set during a disastrous gathering of friends and secret lovers. Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) has just been appointed to a high government position, but the party to celebrate her promotion is demolished by unexpected news from her mopey husband Bill (Timothy Spall). Meanwhile, a lesbian couple (Cherry Jones and Emily Mortimer) learn that they are having triplets and a cocaine-snorting lawyer (Cillian Murphy) secretly plots revenge, while Janet’s acid-tongued best friend (Patricia Clarkson) spews toothless one-liners. The writing is even more annoying than the lackluster visuals, just a series of lowbrow, laugh track-ready putdowns wrapped in the trappings of academia. Cramped and predictable and far less clever than it thinks, The Party feels like it was based on a play that I would also dislike, rather than an original screenplay by Potter.