Parties aren’t all that they seem for a photographer in After Party, a film that isn’t without commentary when it comes to the power dynamics.
Lana (Laura Dreyfuss), a photographer, has a chance encounter with Hollis (Sean Kleier) under the worst of circumstances. She opens the door of her cab onto his bike. A comedy of errors ensues as it should. Meanwhile, she’s headed to the loft of her friend Charlie (Rachel Nichols) for a party. Charlie just opened a new gallery show with an after party set to take place at her apartment. Lana’s here because she has an opportunity to meet with Alan (Steve Guttenberg), a big-shot gallery owner.
As things get started, it’s just Julia (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Gavin (Jeremie Harris) on hand. Charlie’s business partner, Dennis (Michael Nathanson) later arrives. He’s trying to deliver news to Charlie to no avail. Maybe Lana can help? Maybe not. Meanwhile, there’s some sort of history between Lana and publicist Adrian (Kyle Dean Massey). Lana does whatever she can to avoid him even if it means hiding in the bathroom.
All the while, Hollis has shown up in hopes of shutting the party down. There’s tension between him and Charlie but things change when Lana recognizes him. This leads to the two of them starting to know each other. He’s more than just some random guy riding a bike in New York City. But could there be more to him as a person worth knowing? It turns out that art–in particular, Lana’s art–has a way of bringing the two together. Maybe it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship?
This begs the question of who we should trust when it comes to getting to where we want to within an industry. All Lana wants to do is take photos and get a big break with a gallery show. The answers to her dreams don’t necessarily get answered by attending Charlie’s party.
The closing scenes of After Party are every bit uncomfortable as it appears when Lana turns down Alan’s advances. Make no mistake that Alan can easily be a substitute for Harvey Weinstein or whatever guy says they can take someone to the next level. It’s a scene that cinematographer Chloe Smolkin frames to its full advantage. The film is especially helped by having Smolkin on board as a DP. Otherwise, the film could have been seen in a male gaze.
Both Laura Dreyfuss and Sean Kleier have great on-screen chemistry together. The former Dear Evan Hansen actress is a leading woman in the making. There’s a lot to enjoy about her performance here–one that many aspiring artists of any kind can relate to. With the closing scenes, anybody who has ever been alone in a room with a person in power can relate to the role.
This is a film that takes place in one location–a benefit for being an independent film. Jesse Knight’s script is one that really shows how awkward these networking after parties can get. I suppose it’s no different than a regular party except when it’s one where you hardly know anybody. I’ve been there–especially during film festival premiere parties. Some of these can be awkward especially when you know nobody at the party except for the publicist. But I digress.
DIRECTOR: Amos Posner
SCREENWRITER: Jesse Knight
CAST: Laura Dreyfuss, Sean Kleier, Scout Taylor-Compton, Michael Nathanson, Kyle Dean Massey, Jeremie Harris, K.K. Moggie, Sanjit De Silva, Tessa Kim, Ryan Metcalf, Tobias Segal, and Rachel Nichols and Steve Guttenberg