British writer-director Sally Potter's often makes artistic choices that could be seen as unusually creative — or gimmicky — depending on your perspective. 2004's Yes, a love story written entirely in iambic pentameter, split critics, while 2009's Rage, which modeled itself off single shot YouTube videos, was the first film to debut on mobile, and quickly fell to just 17% on Rotten Tomatoes.

So now we come to Potter's latest dark comedy, The Party, shot entirely in black and white — a direction that can be well received (see 2011's The Artist), but must serve a larger purpose.

And, hallelujah, in this case, it really does seem effective at sharpening Potter's satirical pencil. The Party is something of a double entendre, playing on both allegiance to a political party and an actual dinner party, where Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas), who has just won her race for health minister, is celebrating with her eccentric group of intellectual friends.

There's April (Patricia Clarkson), a sardonic middle-aged woman who once shared Janet's passion but is now as tired with democratic platitudes as she is with her boyfriend, Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), a life coach whose holistic approach seems at odds with the sort of institutionalized medicine Janet is fighting for — but no one at the party seems particularly excited about Britain's healthcare system, so he fits in just fine.

Martha (Cherry Jones) and Jinny (Emily Mortimer) are feminists, outwardly thrilled to announce Jinny's pregnancy but secretly coming at odds over their different interpretations of feminist doctrine, creating an inconsolable divide by the party's end, much like the civil war Bernie and Hillary supporters fell out over. And Tom (Cillian Murphy) — well, who knows what's going on in his head. He's too busy snorting coke off Janet's bathtub. Rounding out the party is Janet's husband, Bill (Timothy Spall) who remains silent until revealing quite the bombshell: he's dying. Well, shit. No one was drunk enough yet for that.

Despite the dark undertones, the dialogue remains peppy and amusing. In an interview with The Guardian, Potter cites the British author Graham Greene as an influence. Indeed, his way of pushing government and social ideals to the extreme in order to expose their absurdity is definitely at play in The Party. The most effective attack is the one on healthcare — the minister's own husband went to a private physician because he had the means and, well, it's faster. The duality of advocating for public healthcare even though it's far from perfect is all too relevant in today's political climate. On Tuesday, voters in the U.S. state of Maine voted to expand Medicaid, a certain relief for thousands, but surely some people just above the poverty line will still be priced out. The Party shows Potter's — and many other voices worldwide —frustration with celebrating ideas more than realities.

And our central character, Janet, is not blind to this. “Has my whole life been a mirage?” she weeps in the bathroom after her party has clearly gone south. Her fall into the pit of disillusionment is the movie's strongest thread. Secondary and tertiary story lines about divisiveness within feminism and the men's debate over whether all money is in fact dirty money, aren't fleshed out enough to leave a punch.

At 71 minutes, the film is more of an anecdote — a reminder to not get complacent and fall for how things seem — than a full-fledged story. If searing social commentary is what Potter is about, The Party doesn't quite push enough. It's the situation comedy that shines (the juxtaposition of dramatic 20th-century black-and-white close shots with the very 21st-century phenomenon of constant cell phone alerts is farcical absurdity at its best). But as a cute little story with a tidy and effective twist at the end, The Party is quite charming – and, hey, in these toxic political times, I'll raise a toast to charm.