Claire's repressed, traumatic childhood comes back to her in flashes when she starts hanging out with Danny, a photographer, and start to go to parties and take drugs. When the memories come back to her, her entire reality comes crashing down.
"Sodium Party" is a surreal Irish movie that rarely ventures into the typical indie surreal style of mass confusion and random visuals for the sake of it. Now, saying that, I originally thought that was exactly what "Sodium Party" would be. But what I sat down to watch was a rather mature independent effort that takes its time to develop and doesn't seem to worry one bit if you find it too slow. That's the best kind of slow, though, isn't it? This is a movie where the plot relies on small progress.
Claire is a young girl whose life changes drastically during her time at the university. A male friend, Danny, brings her into a life of partying, drugs and love, something which backfires on Claire. Her childhood, which she has since long repressed, is starting to infect itself onto her everyday life. People from her past show up around her. Though things suddenly seem to become clear, she's not certain of anything anymore.
This is a movie that takes a chance. It has an idea and it runs with it. No matter how simple it might be in its core, when the filmmakers take an entire movie to build everything up it suddenly becomes a puzzle for us as well. Yes, it could have been told in short film format - but to no effect. "Sodium Party" might not be incredibly original, but to me it was a very mature, effective way to tell something that is actually a great, sad story to tell. Other filmmakers would want to push it too far and simply forget about the characters by making it too strange, visual and complex. Michael McCudden seems to have found a nice balance with his movie.
Despite being executed really well and having a lead we actually care about, I think some parts are rather flawed. Some on a technical level, some on how it's delivered. There's a bit of a gap early in the movie which didn't really captivate me. I have to admit these thing did disrupt an otherwise fully engaging independent movie. If you can get past these things, which I won't go into further detail about, and don't mind a slow developing tragic drama, then you should be able to enjoy this plenty.
Claire is a beautiful, everyday woman who has all the strength and weakness of a real person, and in the end that's what "Sodium Party" depends on. Slaine Kelly understands all the confusion and the sudden awakening of her character and manages to bring out a very solid portrayal. It's not a surprise that she has starred in a lot of stuff prior to this.
With independent movies it's unfortunately rare that the slower ones manage to engage you. A slow movie means you focus even more on details and characters than you'd do otherwise as a viewer, so it's not weird that most independent filmmakers, actors, etc. aren't up to the task. You'll find weaker parts of "Sodium Party" as well, but in the end it treats you with a sad, engaging story with a good lead actress to back it up.