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).
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Ray Carney on Mike Leigh's television drama, Abigail's Party: