92Y Tribeca screened the 1995 cult classic Party Girl last night, followed by a Q&A with its star, Parker Posey, led by writer and film programmer Miriam Bale. While the film is largely beloved as a screwball comedy, in retrospect Posey’s Mary is much more surprising and layered than she even needed to be for the movie to be a success. She doesn’t party as a way of self-medication or clichéd cry for help – she enjoys every moment of her existence, and, even in the end, never shows remorse for who she is, despite discovering her calling as a librarian. While Posey says that she didn’t improvise any of the film and gives full credit to the script, it is easy to see how she was able to carry such a role with such finesse.
Posey hasn’t seen the movie since its release, because she doesn’t like to watch herself. Yet the experiences of filming, from “wanting to take [her] eyeballs out and soak them in cold water” from exhaustion to going out dancing with the cast and crew, seem clear as day in her mind. She can remember what it felt like to shoot the climactic Middle Eastern-themed party scene, when she would take 15-minute naps with her co-stars and wear a ten-pound ball of hair on her head, but she can barely recall whether all of this happened before or after she filmed Dazed and Confused. She also attributes her relatively low profile in the industry to the fact that she lives in New York instead of Los Angeles, half-joking that she pays visits to LA because “otherwise they forget you. How you bled. How you were funny and sad at the same time, they don’t remember that.” Posey makes this observation in a voice that is low and slow and serious, her straight-faced delivery drawing giggles from the audience.
Answering an audience question about her drama education at SUNY Purchase, she says, “It was really a great school, and I recommend it to anyone trying to go into this industry,” only to follow with, “It was cheap.” When someone asks if she thinks it’s easier or harder to live in New York now as compared to the ’90s, she pauses before saying, “I think it’s harder… don’t you?” and contrasts the cost of living and materialism of the 21st century to that era’s grunge aesthetic. “But I hope that doesn’t sound pessimistic,” she adds. “That’s not a good thing.”
Despite it being brought up that she seemed to have been born a little too late considering her talents in screwball comedy, and the fact that she feels a slight disconnect from the film industry because of where she lives, Posey appears to feel anything but out of place. She is who she is.
“You’re writing a book?” Bale asks after Posey lightheartedly toys with the idea.
“I mean, I don’t know,” she says, slightly shifting in her armchair. “Maybe I’ll be inspired to next week.”