The Anniversary Party
The Anniversary Party ★★★ 2001 (R)
Leigh and Cumming co-write, co-direct, and star as the central couple in this impressive ensemble comedy-drama about a group of Hollywood friends celebrating said couple's sixth anniversary. Amid much career and personal angst, drug use, and sometimes nasty air-clearing, most of the characters are fleshed out nicely and the dialogue remains sharp throughout. The air is thick with genuine personal dread and interpersonal tension. Among the uniformly excellent performances, two especially stand out: Leigh as the aging actress on the cusp of career oblivion, and Cates as a former actress who's given up her career to focus on being a wife (to just-beyond-leading-man-status hubby Kline) and mother. Filmed in digital video in 19 days under the Dogme 95 guidelines. 117m/C VHS, DVD . US Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Cumming, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates, John C. Reilly, Jane Adams, John Benjamin Hickey, Parker Posey, Denis O'Hare, Jennifer Beals, Mina (Badiyi) Badie, Michael Panes; D: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Cumming; W: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Cumming; C: John Bailey; M: Michael Penn.