Ever since watching the series five, episode ten of Doctor Who titled “Vincent and the Doctor”, I’ve been a fan of Karen Gillan. Her character was the only reason I finally decided to watch the show. Since then, I’ve watched a few of her other projects, including the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Oculus, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. When I found out that one of her next projects would be a film which she would write, direct and star in, I knew I’d have to check it out.
The Party’s Just Beginning, written and directed by Gillan, follows the main character Liusaidh as she deals with the aftermath of her best friend Alistair’s (Matthew Beard) suicide. She tries to cope with it through meaningless hookups, eating fries, and with the firm belief in positive drinking. With nearly everything around her bringing up memories of Alistair, she desperately tries to find to make a connection with someone or at least find joy in life again.
Taking on topics like suicide and depression can be very difficult, especially in movies. But the way Gillan goes about tackling these topics doesn’t seem forced or like it takes itself too seriously. She manages to put a spotlight on these topics in a way that seems much more grounded. The character of Liusaidh is a mixture of both humor and sadness. It was fascinating to see Gillan take on such a different role than she normally would. Most of the other things I’ve seen her in are fantasy or horror films. I was awed by her ability to adapt to a role like this. Then again it does help that she wrote the role for herself.
The use of flashbacks helped portray just how strong the friendship between Liusaidh and Alistair was. Showing their relationship helped the movie in a major way. Had they just talked about Alistair’s suicide and focused on how Liusaidh handled it, the movie wouldn’t have had the same impact. The flashbacks also help explain the way she interacts with Dale (Lee Pace) and the bond she forms with the old man who mistakes her home phone number for the suicide hotline.
However, there was a specific scene that did make me feel a bit uncomfortable. Without going into spoilers, the scene shows one of the more unhealthy ways Liusaidh deals with her depression. I do have to caution that there are certain scenes which may cause the same effect.
Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect since the movie trailers didn’t give too much away. But at the same time, I feel like that helped since I couldn’t really make any real judgments or form any real expectations. With this being Gillan first feature film that she’s directed and wrote, I think she did a fantastic job. I could relate to some aspects of Liusaidh’s character.
I enjoy when films have characters that I can relate to. It makes it seem like they take time in writing their characters, make them feel more real. I’m excited to see what future projects Gillan develops.