A talented group of actors find themselves at a dull gathering in slight 71-minute film

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“The Party” is a piffle.

A comedy of manners centered on a dinner party gone off the rails, “The Party” seeks to send up its bourgeois guests with shocking revelations about their pasts, served up one at a time like hors d’oeuvres. But a few minutes with these partygoers is more than enough to know you’re better off staying home.

Ostensibly a one-act play — it clocks in at a quick and dirty 71 minutes — “The Party” unfolds in the cozy London home of Janet (Kristen Scott Thomas), who is throwing a party to celebrate her recent appointment as Britain’s Health Minister.

Her husband, Bill (Timothy Spall), sits dead-eyed in his living room chair, only getting pleasure from his vinyl records. Janet’s acidic friend April (Patricia Clarkson) arrives and throws around some cutting insults. Jinny (Emily Mortimer) and Martha (Cherry Jones) are a pregnant couple, seemingly the only happy pair in the room, but wait a while. Tom (Cillian Murphy) shows up with a gun and a pocket full of coke. Are we having fun yet?

Co-writer and director Sally Potter (“Ginger & Rosa”) doesn’t make her characters appalling enough that we revel in their downfall, nor are they sympathetic enough that we care what happens to them. Mostly, they’re a dull lot, which in such a tightly contained story, is the most unforgivable sin of all.

The politics of “The Party,” which is filmed in stark black and white, don’t bite, they peter out, much like the movie itself. With a cast like this, “The Party” should have been a delicious romp. Instead, it’s over before it gets started.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama

‘The Party’

GRADE: C-

Rated R for language and drug use

Running time: 71 minutes

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