The Anniversary Party
Written and directed by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming
Starring Alan Cumming, Kevin Kline, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Five minutes in, you think “I’m glad I don’t have to spend time with these shallow, self absorbed, pretentious Cold Water Canyon types.” But about half way through, the thought oozes into your brain, “This is a really cool party.” And after the drugs are passed out and the underwater nude ballet scene, you really wish you received an invite, even though you’re not shallow or self absorbed enough to swim in these circles. Or so you think.
Joe and Sally Therrian (Cumming and Leigh) survived six glorious years of marriage, and all their friends have turn out to celebrate. Well, it might be six years married, or six since the remarriage, or six since they got married the first time. It’s not that clear, since she’s LA and he’s London and there’s that pesky time change, but no matter. In a simpler time or Ohio, you would have brought ironware or candy, but nowadays, Ecstasy is a bit more appropriate for the sixth, and more appreciated. Joe is a writer and reluctant director with the most astonishing neck muscle action when yelling. Wifey Sally runs around in a designer dress that looks like a sexy nightgown and exudes extremely deadly jealousy rays at Skye Davidson (Paltrow). Davidson is Joe’s leading lady and this week’s hot set of boobies. She can’t act that well, but her oral sex and rehab work is making tongues wag. Staffing the rest of the party are a great collection of Hollywood types who fawn over one another when not bitching in the background. There’s the suave Cal Gold (Kline) who wants to weasel into Joe’s film, if he’d rewrite it a bit for an older lead. And there’s Jane Adams (Claire Forsyth), the jittery pill popping actress, fretting over her child and career. Best of all are Ryan and Monica Rose (Denis O’Hare, Mina Badie) the neighbors that Joe and Sally need to suck up to due to some doggy misunderstandings. It’s clear that they’re not wrong social class, they’re just the wrong social circle, and pretty much everyone lets them know, but not intentionally.
Anniversary shows us a slice of life in the Galliano, Van Der Rohe, and Eames furniture set. Just like the ’60s party flicks this revives, a Peter Sellers (Michael Panes) types hangs around making funny with bad Indian accents and charming the pants off the leading lady. After this film, you’ll shout, “Snub Me! Snub Me!” at the next real director you meet, and you’ll love him for it when the X kicks in. Just remember to drink lots of water and don’t eat the light sticks.