'When the Party's Over'

Matthew Irmas' engaging first feature tells of four young people sharing a handsome old Spanish house in the Hollywood Hills and coming to terms with adulthood. Thanks to Ann Wycoff's substantial script, Irmas' incisive direction, and especially to Rae Dawn Chong's selfless portrayal of M.J., a ruthlessly ambitious stockbroker, the 1993 film rises above its conventional plot to create genuine impact and involvement. At last Chong (pictured) has a role that shows off her talent and intelligence as well as her distinctive presence. M.J.'s housemates are a struggling artist (Sandra Bullock), a social worker (Elizabeth Berridge) and a gay actor (Kris Kamm) who's beginning to despair of making it beyond the occasional commercial. This is an encouraging venture for all concerned. With Brian McNamara (pictured) (Cinemax Thursday at 8 p.m.).

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