Scotland’s homegrown Karen Gillan has made quite the career for herself – a Guardian of the Galaxy and even holding her own against Dwayne Johnson in the recent Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. However, for her latest project, she steps behind the camera for her directorial debut: The Party’s Just Beginning.
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Luisaidh (Gillan)’s life has gone quite off the rails ever since her best friend Matthew (Matthew Beard) commit suicide. With the one-year mark approaching since the tragedy, Luisaidh finds its toll worse than ever before. Unable to confide in anyone and spending her days and nights endeavouring in joyless sex and an obscene amount of drinking, things don’t look great for her. Until one night, she meets Dale (Lee Pace) – a lost spirit, yet a free one, just like herself, he is someone that Luisaidh can relate to and the pair quickly form a touching bond.
As someone that is quite the fan of Gillan’s work thus far, I really went into The Party’s Just Beginning wanting to love it. But whilst there are things this film gets right – the performances are all very credible; Lee Pace’s involvement is a particular treasure here as the charming Dale; Edd Lukas’ cinematography of the bitter Inverness winter is slick and stunning – it’s too little to hide the fact that, as much as she has tried (her effort is evident and certainly very commendable), Gillan’s debut is just not that good. The problems arise from a messy screenplay that is never sure what it wants to be and one that tries to juggle way more than it can handle – it’s a film with no flow through its vein; it lacks cohesive structure in its narrative marrow and feels way too convoluted and frantic for its own good.
The film has echoes of modern society and it is commendable for its efforts in trying to bring light to important topics such as suicide, sexuality, alcohol abuse , transgender acceptance, the importance of love, family and friendship but it all just feels so shoehorned in – as if the only reason these threads are even in the film is for Gillan to breathe some relevance into her film. Considering these themes feel rushed and lack any decent authenticity, they fail to ring true and just feel like extra baggage for a film already weighed down by a lot of unnecessary weight. The characters are also all one-dimensional – all, save from Pace’s Dale but he feels way too underused – and it’s hard to really connect to our character and empathise for her inner turmoil and torment when she just comes across as bland and whiny and contrived in her nature. The Party’s Just Beginning is commendable for its efforts because Gillan certainly tries but it’s a film that bites off more than it can chew and it’s ends up nothing more than forgettable and tedious as a result.
Karen Gillan bites off more than she can chew for her directorial debut The Party's Just Beginning, sadly making it feel empty and forgettable.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.