Australia’s Bruce Beresford did a perfect job of filming Don’s Party (1976), a play by David Williamson, and of guiding his actors to a sound representation of a message—that marriage and hedonism do not mix.
An Australian political race between the liberal Labor Party and the conservative Liberal Party is coming to an end, and a party of drink and naughtiness is taking place. Don (John Hargreaves), the married host, and the other men here hold on to politics as their “intellectual” pursuit and sex as their toy and refuge. The former will stimulate them for a while—and most of them are unthinking Labor voters—but it’s the latter that REALLY stimulates them. (Another message: Australians are morally unworthy of their democracy.) And how vulgar they are! Indeed, how vulgar—and hedonistic—the women can be!
Rated a hard R, the film is frank and rueful and humorous and harsh toward its characters. It ain’t Claude Goretta. Such actors as Ray Barrett (Mal), Pat Bishop (Jenny) and Clare Binney (Susan) understand the satire and have wonderful instincts. But then all the actors are natural and knowing. Bravo!