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Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Anniversary Party (2001)

After coming back together following a separation, a Hollywood couple, she (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is an actress, he (Alan Cumming) is a writer/director, throw themselves a sixth anniversary party inviting their closest friends. What would you call a film produced, directed and starring two actors with a supporting cast of friends and family? How about a vanity project? To be fair, that's not quite fair. While much of the film does seem self indulgent as the actors ramble tritely on (let's face much of what we say in real life is trite) in a seemingly improvisatory fashion, as writers Leigh and Cumming also manage some searing moments such as their fight in the Hollywood Hills as they search for their dog or a phone call bearing horrible news. But scenes like the charade game or two children's attempts at entertaining are unbearable to sit through. Actors, of course, love this sort of "let it all hang out" thing and more often than not, Leigh/Cumming indulge their friends rather than reining it in. But you won't be bored. The massive cast includes Kevin Kline, Gwyneth Paltrow, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Beals, Phoebe Cates (Mrs. Kline in a one return to acting), John Benjamin Hickey, Dennis O'Hare, Parker Posey, Jane Adams and Michael Panes and Mina Badie (Leigh's sister) in the film's best performance and most relatable character.

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