Abigail’s Party

Alison Steadman as BeverlyRay Carney on Mike Leigh’s television drama, Abigail’s Party:

There is no realm of “truth” underneath or distinguishable from the realm of “falsehood.” There are no secrets to exhume. There are no psychological depths to mine–or at least none that matter–in Abigail’s Party. No one is being deceitful. No one is covering up anything. That would simplify understanding. We could dive down and discover the truth as we do in films like Citizen Kane or Casablanca. The situation Leigh imagines–here and in all of his work–is far more complex. There is no escape from slippery, shifting, multivalent surfaces. There is no realm of unsullied, uninflected reality underneath. Everything is mixed. We must live in the flux….

Indeed, it’s the fact that everyone says what they think in this film that makes it so painful to watch. Which shows that this postideological flux has everything to do with affect (the barbs, the resentment, the worry, and the drunkenness of suburban social interaction) and habit (the pettiness, the gender roles, the classification by taste, and the drunkenness again).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s