**½/**** Image A Sound A Extras A+
starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Cumming, Jane Adams, Jennifer Beals
written and directed by Alan Cumming/Jennifer Jason Leigh
by Walter Chaw The overriding feeling in and of The Anniversary Party is high anxiety. The film represents a study of the ways in which insecurities manifest themselves through a dazzling panoply of multifarious defense mechanisms: pretension, jealousy, aggression, bootlicking, hostility, inappropriate flirtation, and casual drug abuse. It's telling that for a toast, someone recites the last stanza of Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach"*--telling not for the sentiment of steadfastness in the face of societal unkindness, but for the fact that the poem has already once received a revision (in 1922 as "The Dover Bitch" by Anthony Hecht) and clearly receives another in Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh's very personal hyphenate debut. Not content to point out that the world is an ugly place, The Anniversary Party dares to suggest that the world's ugliness is very often a product of marauding hordes of neurotic internal demons.