The Party's Just Beginning

Liusaidh (Karen Gillan) lives at home with her parents, works at a supermarket cheese counter, and blows off steam through binge-drinking and reckless sex. She suffers flashbacks to her best friend Alistair killing himself, and struggles to emotionally connect with anyone, apart from an old widower who has mistaken her telephone number for a helpline.

By Sophie Monks Kaufman | Posted 10 days ago

Although billed as a comedy, Karen Gillan‘s feature debut is best-described as a capsule of depression energy. Malaise is in the bones of this character study of Liusaidh (Gillan) who has absorbed the despair of best friend Alistair (Matthew Beard) a year after he jumped off a railway bridge to his death. This bleak story is rooted in statistical truth, for the LA-based writer/director/star has returned to her hometown of Inverness, where suicides rates are high, especially amongst men.

We see Alistair in under-signposted flashbacks casually hanging out with Liusaidh while struggling with the unholy trinity of gender confusion, a closeted boyfriend and a heroin-addicted father. Beard performs quiet vulnerability – showing flashes of the panic beneath his amiable personality. Back in the present, the film’s gallows humour is set by Gillan who channels the blankness of a woman stripped of delusions, whether picking up nameless men, or standing behind the cheese counter staring into space. Although the detail of an old man who mistakes her phone number for a helpline is implausibly twee, it is valuable insofar as it provides her only emotional outlet. Through him we access the sardonic bleakness she carries within. “Did you have a nice Christmas?” he asks. “Well, I went to sleep with three random guys and woke up covered in bruises and love bites but my mum didn’t burn the turkey so you win some, you lose some,” she responds in a neutral voice.

This is a dark film due to being set during wintry Christmas nights. Still, Edd Lukas adds spectacle in crisp photography of the expansive nature that marks the parameters of Liusaidh’s world. Her self-destructive routines are so repetitious that we come to know key exterior locations. A perky electronic score by Pepijn Caudron and pink title treatment underline Gillan’s brutally ironic sense of humour. If this is how the party is at the beginning, says her film, then please God, call me a cab before it really gets going.

A strikingly odd and original debut that is admirable for taking the triple-threat of suicide, depression and addiction in its nonchalant stride, although the confusing presentation of separate timelines mutes the overall impact.