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Abigail's Party
Abigail's Party
Actors: Alison Steadman, Tim Stern, Janine Duvitski, John Salthouse, Harriet Reynolds
Director: Mike Leigh
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Television
UR     2004     1hr 45min

ABIGAIL'S PARTY features Beverly (Alison Steadman) a bitingly funny hostess of a dainty evening party at which her husband has the ultimate bad taste of having a heart attack on her new living room carpet. Unable to decid...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Alison Steadman, Tim Stern, Janine Duvitski, John Salthouse, Harriet Reynolds
Director: Mike Leigh
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Television
Studio: Water Bearer Films, Inc
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 02/24/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 45min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 10
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Timeless comedy in a 1970s setting
Gavin Wilson | 03/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This wonderfully comic play can be viewed at many levels:- A clash of classes (Beverley and the neighbouring couple are working class; her husband Lawrence aspires to be middle class; and Abigail's Mum is upper middle.)- A conflict of skills (Beverley as the stay-at-home, childless wife doesn't work, doesn't cook and orders poor Lawrence to do virtually everything, whereas her apparently inept neighbour comes into her own as nurse at the climax of the play.)- As an allegory on the white man's departure from Africa. At the time of the play's creation, Britain was negotiating its exit from Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia). Abigail's posh Mum doesn't know whether to leave the partygoers to it -- possibly causing havoc -- or to interfere herself, or to ask Lawrence to go round and report back.Whichever way you look at it, it's tremendous fun throughout, with a flawless performance by Alison Steadman as Beverley. There are some fantastic lines, most of them uttered by Janine Duvitski (who went on to star in ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE), such as "I've got very beautiful lips" (you have to see Steadman's reaction), and "We're so alike" (ditto).Strangely the weakest performance is by Tim Stern as Lawrence, who never totally convinces as the stressed-out, over-sensitive estate agent who thinks he's cultured because he owns a set of Shakespeare's works which he never expects to read.The accompanying featurette is all too short, but it's pretty clear that this play simply wouldn't have existed without Alison Steadman's demonic creation. Mike Leigh may have been the writer/ director, but Beverley was based on an Essex woman and a cosmetics demonstrator whom Steadman met prior to the improvisations.The DVD picture quality is a good as you could possibly expect from a BBC 1970s studio production. The 1970s decor comes up wonderfully!"
Black comedy at its very best...
nicjaytee | London | 12/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Like "The Office" 25 years later, "Abigail's Party" is such perfectly targeted, close to the truth humour that it makes you laugh out loud and cringe with embarrassment at the same time. In a setting that represents everyone's nightmare of mid 70's middle class life it sucks you into its brilliantly drawn world and then leaves you as some sort of unwelcome voyeur in the cocktail party from hell. Like most of the people there, you want to get out but you can't, and as things go from bad to worse you end up totally transfixed by the sheer awfulness of the situation you find yourself in.

With characters whose lives are so desperately frustrating that real aggression lies only just below the surface, this is black comedy at its very best precisely because it's much too close to reality for comfort. You can't help but laugh but you know that you're laughing at these people and their tragically depressing lives, and by the "sting in the tail" ending you really wish you hadn't. Brilliantly written, directed and acted "Abigail's Party" is far more than a humorous period piece and, quite rightly, stands up there as one of the very best British TV plays of the past thirty years.
Painfully Funny
nicjaytee | 05/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"There are few words that can describe this film. Some are...Classic, histerically funny, incredible and fantastic.Its got to be the best film to sit down to with a few friends and a lager or two. Fantastic characters played by an excellent cast. Make sure you have some towels ready, you will wet yourself laughing....what more can I say?"
Nasty Party Indeed
Ms. S. K. Williams | London, UK | 04/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Well, what do you expect when you have someone like Beverly as your hostess? When the said bored housewife decides to hold a dinner party inviting neighbours you can bet she wants a more insidious and vicious bit of fun than a game of charads.She dresses in low-cut tops, flirts with her neighbour's husband and does everything she possibly can to humiliate and put down her helpless guests. And you can tell she holds her prim and proper husband Laurence in contempt as well. This is very much a play/film where sub-text and interplay are essential to make it worthwhile viewing and if you don't watch stolen glances and listen to the odd remark carefully then you might miss important bits; so if you prefer more in-your-face type films then you're unlikely to like this flick. But stick with it and you'll enjoy.So who is Abigail then? Why, the fifteen-year-old daughter of one of Beverly's guests who is having her first party and boy is Beverly going to enjoy stirring things up.Watch out for an unexpected and dramatic ending."