For Reel

The Party (1968)
October 3, 2016, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Blake Edwards
4.5 Stars
the-partyBlake Edwards’ riff on Jacques Tati’s Playtime takes most of its inspiration from the superficial elements. If each filmmaker deals with a soirée involving the social elite, rife with modern gadgets and a loosely-structured plot, Edwards is more keen to attract audiences through their association with social paranoias. Peter Sellers’ Hrundi V. Bakshi is an outsider in every sense of the word, and from the moment he arrives at the eponymous event he meets disaster on the regular—the pleasant smile he gives to mask the fact that he’s desperate to use the facilities is something audiences can easily identify with. Edwards’ sense of escalating chaos is not so much tied to the actual event itself, rather to the foibles of Bakshi’s social deficiencies. Lest the audience mistake the film for mean-spirited towards Bakshi, however, the final act elevates him to a sort of hero, inciting a grand party while protecting the honor of an elephant and a girl. To Edwards, this sense of disorder is the first time that the playing field is truly leveled, and an outsider like Bakshi can overcome the social gatekeepers that spend most of the film appalled by his antics. If Tati’s film is more loving and gentle throughout, The Party‘s finale plays like a fantastical wish fulfillment, where the socially inept Bakshi becomes the centerpiece of a party and wins the girl.

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