Abusing the power of the pub karaoke machine, Liusaidh (Karen Gillan) lectures the pissed friday night crowd by reminding them just how shit their lives are. They aren’t having it, so she leaves to shag a stranger behind the bins, subsequently leaving the encounter shoving chips into her mouth as she strolls along the dual carriageway. The Party’s Just Beginning is a straightforward downward spiral of Liusaidh’s reckoning with the death of her best friend, and the reality of her situation wich consists of drifting between work on the cheese counter, night clubs, affairs and one night stands.
We follow Liusaidh through director Karen Gillan’s hometown of picturesque Inverness. Gillan was drawn to the location as she saw the beautiful landscape at odds with the high suicide statistics. Despite this, The Party’s Just Beginning detaches itself from any date or time, and largely from the landscape of the town itself – save for a few ruins. In a time where sucicide and drug abuse is abundant thanks to the Conservative government’s austerity policies of the past decade – and whilst it is not a single films job to represent or solve anything – this is all the more painful viewing for its flippant treatment of each character. Liusaidh’s development appears to be propelled by tactless depictions of suicide, drug abuse and sexual assault. Viewers might struggle to watch the careless conversations about, and careless depictions of, these issues.
No doubt an ambitious and strong debut, there is an unequal balance of more creative techniques and formal storytelling. The absence of the former might have prevented The Party’s Just Beginning from being so painfully on the nose. The music attempts to guide your feelings, but the framing and editing refuses to give the excellent performances Gilian brings out of her cast and herself room to breathe. As with many other writer-director-actor vehicles The Party’s Just Beginning’s screenplay sounds like a reverberation, not quite gauging the right distance from how seriously it wants to take characters or issues.
In a post-Fleabag world, cis, straight, white, able bodied women are making incredibly indulgent and messy art. It is fun and reckless, until it is not. The Party’s Just Beginning’ makes its point, and then it keeps on making its point. This point is then punctuated by ‘shock’ reveals, depictions of suicide, and a crucial scene of sexual assault. It felt outdated, pressing the audience to be taken aback as though these things were unheard of or taboo; more like an after school special than like social commentary.
by Reba Martin
Reba Martin recently graduated Film Studies from Manchester School of Art, and freelances as a Writer, Programmer, and Barista. Her top recommended Netflix Category is “Wacky 80’s Movies With a Strong Female Lead”. Letterboxd / @discorebekah