The Movie Waffler New to Prime Video - THE PARTY’S JUST BEGINNING | The Movie Waffler


A young Scottish woman is haunted by the suicide of a friend.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Karen Gillan

Starring: Karen Gillan, Lee Pace, Matthew Beard, Paul Higgins

The Party's Just Beginning poster


In The Party’s Just Beginning we see director/writer/star Karen Gillan, the actor from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, perform a mystical motivational speech via the medium of pub karaoke, dance like no one is watching, take a bloke she’s met at the bar to some doss house for a shag and, after kicking the fortuitous fella into touch, stride purposefully down the street and towards the camera while stuffing big, fat handfuls of chips into her mouth. This all occurs within the first three minutes or so of The Party’s Just Beginning (there is so much I like about this film but let’s begin with the defiantly informal contraction of the title, which is an early indication of this films impish confidence), Gillan’s directorial debut, which is the type of first time effort that is always exciting: the sort that goes for broke because the filmmaker knows that they may never get another shot (yes, alright, I know that KG has been knocking about for yonks now, and has worked with such luminaries as the Russo brothers, etc, but such experience in front of the camera doesn’t necessarily mean mastery behind it; just ask Kevins Spacey and Bacon). And just as you’re thinking, yeah, I love this character (Liusaidh: the best, most pretty name in a film this year), that, hell, I want to be this character, it suddenly starts to go to shit when Liusaidh, en route home via a railway bridge, witnesses a pretty young man simply and sadly launch himself to death from the severe height. Liusaidh just watches, unable to intervene.

The Party's Just Beginning review

It soon transpires that Liusaidh’s best mate (the lost lad on the railway line: Alistair, played by Matthew Beard) committed suicide some months ago, a scene witnessed by Luisaidh. The girl is haunted by visions of Alistair which appear throughout the film in the melancholic manner of willowy, youthful Banquos; an implacable admonishment that while her life continues, his life doesn’t; an excoriating suggestion that perhaps Liusaidh could have done more. Anyone who is unfortunate enough to have been left behind by a suicide knows this lifelong niggle. The needling, ingrained compulsions that perhaps if you had listened more closely, been present at certain points, then maybe such a pointless fucking waste wouldn’t have happened. This is especially so in Liusaidh’s case, as Alistair, a pre-op transsexual, with a straight acting fella somewhat ashamed of Alistair and himself, was essentially alone save for her. Perhaps a small part of Liusaidh will forever remain in stasis. Gillan’s storytelling is impressionistic and triumphantly cinematic when she relates this aspect of the narrative. As The Party’s Just Beginning slips between past and present, there are no signalled flashbacks. Instead, scenes seamlessly blend from the unsettled now to the slowly souring past, a convincingly evocative adumbration of how our mindsets work, how we can be physically present while our thoughts and feelings are actually time-travelling between hopeful futures and impinging bygones.

The Party's Just Beginning review

So, of course, with some inevitability, it turns out that Liusaidh’s boozy, shag happy lifestyle is an attempt to block out the demons. The lazy suggestion that young people going out and having a laugh in various barrooms and bedrooms is essentially destructive is usually not a good look, and, as it is typically proposed by the jealous, often has no moral or narrative weight whatsoever. But here’s the thing about The Party’s Just Beginning: in happier times, we see Liusaidh and Alistair up to those sort of tricks anyway and having the time of their lives. There is a scene where the pair share a dodgy pill and dance around the living room wrecked all night to Grieg (the only music they can find!), which is so warm and natural and recognisable that it made my heart almost burst. But then, the film unflinchingly implies, imagine being so low that everything you previously loved doing suddenly and poisonously becomes a compulsion that simply serves your self-loathing. Eeesh.

The Party's Just Beginning review

Lee Grinner Pace appears as a hook up for Liusaidh (the best looking couple in modern cinema?), but even this subplot is given the sort of even handed consideration that would be beyond less courageous film makers. No spoilers, but there isn’t a happy ending for this particular coupling, but then nor is there an especially unhappy one, simply the essential truth that, as implied by its hopeful title, in The Party’s Just Beginning, as in these small towns we live in, life just meanders as we wait for something to happen. The party may or not be just around the corner for Liusaidh, but let’s hope that this auspicious debut is the beginning of a fruitful directorial career for Gillan.

The Party's Just Beginning is on Prime Video UK now.