Paying tribute to her hometown, The Party’s Just Beginning marks the feature debut for actress Karen Gillan.
From her previous works, we already knew that Karen Gillan was a talented actor. What the The Party’s Just Beginning does is put her on the map as a rising talent to watch as both a director and screenwriter. Gillan uses the suicide rates in the Highlands of Scotland in which she bases the narrative. Luisadh (Gillan) is still suffering on the inside with regards to her coping strategies and how to best move forward in the months to come.
Luisadh, who works behind the deli counter at a grocery store, continually relies on her wit and sarcasm in response to Alistair’s suicide. It takes her into a complete crisis and she shuts down as far as being able to connect with friends or family. She just isn’t able to escape what she saw–Alistair jumping onto the train tracks below the bridge to their death below.
As a way of trying to move on, she attempts a relationship with Dale (Lee Pace). Dale is going through a crisis of his own when they meet so the two are perfect for each other in that regard. In the meantime, an older gentleman (Ralph Riach) keeps calling her phone number because it’s so close to that of a help line. With the frequent calls, the two develop a phone relationship.
Still, neither Dale or the man on the phone are able to give Luisadh what she truly needs. She needs to be able to get to the point in which she can start accepting that Alistair is dead and move on knowing her best friend has departed.
There’s a pivotal moment in the film when Luisadh walks in on her best friend, Alistair (Matthew Beard), and notices her friend in makeup and holding a wig in their hands. Alistair uses that moment to come out as transgender and wanting to be a woman. There’s the talk of visiting a doctor for hormones and being told to live full time for a year as a woman before the operation. Alistair also says that they like the name, Ali or Alice. I’m using they/them pronouns when referring to Alistair throughout because I honestly don’t know which pronouns or name to use. It’s clear that Alistair wants to go through with the transition.
While Luisadh is supportive, Alistair’s boyfriend, the church-going Ben (Jamie Quinn) isn’t supporting and immediately breaks off the relationship. Ben may have been the supportive friend when he thought Alistair was gay. When Alistair comes out as transgender, Ben couldn’t run away quick enough.
It’s a solid feature debut for Gillan, who planned every shot of the film with cinematographer Edd Lukas. Starting off with a musical number, “A,” was a solid choice in storytelling. Give credit to Gillan for shooting the small indie film before immediately going into production on Avengers: Infinity War.
Told in a heartfelt way with Gillan proving to be a triple threat, The Party’s Just Beginning is a love letter to Scotland.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Karen Gillan
CAST: Karen Gillan, Lee Pace, Matthew Beard, Paul Higgins, Siobhan Redmond, Jamie Quinn, Rachel Jackson, and Ralph Riach