The Party’s Just Beginning: But the Trauma’s Been Here for a While
Director and Writer: Karen Gillan
For those of you that don’t know, “The Party’s Just Beginning” (PJB) is about Lucy (Karen Gillan) a lost 24-year-old who aimlessly works, parties and lives because her best friend Alistair’s (Matthew Beard) suicide weighs heavily on her mind. She has yet to fully process the loss thus it torments her. That combined with her lack of supportive relationships and horrible coping mechanisms makes for a downtrodden heroine whose rare smile seems grim.
This movie is classified as a comedy/drama, but I didn’t find anything funny about it. I realize there was a bit about some dude always asking her whether they stocked mortadella and some other random lighthearted moments, but they never made me laugh. Lucy was just so sad even the dark humor leaned too much on the dark side for me to find humorous. Now I don’t mind sad movies, in some respects I like sad movies more than jovial ones since I believe something moving you potentially to tears is quite powerful. However, this movie didn’t have the redemptive quality for our heroine. It just made me sad then sadder then very very very sad. Lucy just keeps making the same mistakes continuously with no end in sight. Now I do believe her calling her friend (you know the one she doesn’t even really seem to like but is her only friend) at the end of the film and asking her to do her nails as a kind of bonding activity more so than out of actual desire is proof she is willing to change no matter how small the gesture. But that’s not enough for me.
Lucy still accepts being men’s therapists and getting no kind of support in return. She still has horrific things happen to her and does not seek help to process them or even acknowledge their horror. And I know that’s realistic and the sad truth and all that, but hey I’m watching a movie and I want my movie character to do what someone who is not in a movie doesn’t do: EVOLVE. In this hour and thirty minutes I want to see Lucy set an example for the 20 somethings who feel the way she does and ACTIVELY WORK THROUGH HER SHIT and not just keep letting shit happen TO her. But I didn’t get that.
Now let’s get into this.
Drunk Talk Therapy
We meet Lucy in between the sloshing beer glasses of two bar patrons arguing amongst themselves. She’s on stage pretending to sing karaoke. By pretending to sing karaoke I mean she’s ranting to a rhythm onstage. She talks passionately about her current depression (without defining it as depression), people’s passivity and how much that upsets her, and various other things she feels worth yelling about.
After she’s booed offstage, she leaves the bar (At which Lee Pace is sitting. I don’t remember his name in the movie and I don’t care to look it up since I did. not. like. him.) happens upon a stranger, fucks him, ditches him, gets some fast food and stuffs fries in her face until she reaches a bridge above a railroad track. There she sees her best friend Alistair jump over.
The loud hard rock music that accompanied her journey from bar to bridge stops. The distractions fade and all Lucy is left with is the thing that terrifies her most. The thing she can’t completely face but she nevertheless walks for quite some time to remember: Her best friend is dead.
Oh and she’s not doing okay about it.
Darkness and Light
Lucy’s restless night is immediately followed by a restless morning. Below, the last shot was shown immediately after the first.
This movie is dark. Literally.
Most of it is tinged the way Lucy’s bedroom is in the first picture, with only a sliver of light being allowed entrance in her dark dark room (mind? WORLD?) Now this may be a stretch, but when the scene abruptly changed to Lucy at her raison d’etre (kidding) manning the cheese counter, I’m convinced Gillan was trying to make us feel as hungover as she is. Our jump from dark room to intense supermarket fluorescence made me wince, I can imagine our Lucy feels 1000000 times worse.
It is worthy to note the brightness of the second picture is entirely superficial and ugly. While the lighter atmosphere may be preferable, that kind of light strikes as false. At least in the first picture we have the purity of natural sunlight peeking through no matter the small amount.
Lucy and Alistair’s friendship could have been better people. Yes, Lucy was there when he needed her help with putting on makeup and she was a good support system for him. Yes they laughed together and had fun times. But that isn’t all a friendship is. It seemed like what they mostly did was get fucked up together which is fine whatever, but what bothered me was they never really had conversations about things they should have.
They never talked about how Alistair’s boyfriend Ben was a horrible partner and person for making Alistair feel like a disgrace.
They never talked about what impact Alistair’s father’s drug addiction had on him/his mental state/how either of them were doing.
They never talked about Lucy’s mental state and how she’s doing.
Any time any of those kinds of conversations were imminent, they were instead avoided then not brought up again. That is not how any relationship should be let alone a BEST friendship. Maybe the memories we had of their relationship went this way as a lesson. In hindsight Lucy remembers these moments as big regrets because she didn’t ask why or tell Ben to fuck himself or ask Alistair how he is no matter how many obstacles (Ben) are in her way.
Even if she had done all those things, would that have even changed what Alistair did? I don’t know, but what I do know is I loved their expressions below.
Lee Pace Sucks
Now Lee Pace in this movie was a douchebag as we all accept and agree.
While his surprise visit to her cheese counter marked the first and last time Lucy has ever smiled at her job, he still is a steaming pile of garbage.
I’m going to make this brief since he made me mad by being who he was.
Who calls a woman a mess then proceeds to sleep with her? How fucking enticing for a man to call you a mess. Meanwhile he’s crying since his ex is richer than he is. (It is BESIDE the point that she is actually a mess. HE DOESN’T KNOW HER!)
When she’s sitting on a ledge and he LEAVES her with a shout of “Good luck getting down there!” and chuckle?? You asshole go help her! Why are you even hanging out with her if you plan on ABANDONING her?
And when he refuses to offer his name until the literal last second AFTER she offers hers first DESPITE knowing she would like to know his name. What is that shit? You can sleep with this woman multiple times but her knowing your name is out of bounds? Get OUT of here.
Finally, he never really gave a shit about her. He never asked her why she drinks so much, why she’s sleeping with him, why she’s so sad, why she’s always in abandoned public spaces. Nothing. Meanwhile he unloads about his ex and his daughter to her willing ears. How sad.
Yes they were both using each other for their own purposes for the duration of their relationship. Yes he has a right to keep some information private given they barely know each other. Yes he’s attractive.
HE WAS AN ASSHOLE AND I REFUSE TO EVEN LOOK UP WHAT HIS NAME WAS.
Shots Shots Shots!
In the context of this movie maybe that title should not be alcohol-related. The amount Lucy drank in this movie not only concerned me, but confounded me. I would call this portion hey guys I enjoyed these stills from the movie, but it just doesn’t have the same mouthfeel you know?
There were a lot of beautifully balanced, lit and staged shots in this film and I didn’t save any of them. Unclear why. Maybe because they were obviously beautiful? I don’t know, but below are two shots that aren’t as conventionally appealing that struck me.
These shots are so sad. Her mother is in credit card debt because she feels the need to perform for her friends to the point of bankruptcy. She may not be alone, but she might as well be if she has the kind of friends that make her feel compelled to put on this charade.
Lucy on the other hand, is alone. Her all-consuming depression never lets up to the point that she does not belong in the scene she watches through her dining room window. She is so used to her dark that she becomes it standing in the night, removed from any light.
Before we go…
- Did that old man on the phone really exist? I need to see her phone records to make sure he was a real person. He sounded like her spiritual advisor
- I found it interesting how she watched her neighbors so intently. It was like her active watching of other people substituted her actively living her own life.
Rating (out of 10): 4
This movie was realistic. It accurately depicted one woman’s valid, scary, horrible, sad experience. It was beautifully shot and wonderfully acted. I just wouldn’t watch it again. It seemed like a pit of sadness that basked in its own sad. I’m giving it a four because it was a beautiful movie and Gillan was a great actress and director. It just didn’t have the call to action I was hoping for. I wanted more of an “every day is a new day to be better!” vibe. What I got was “this was bad, this is worse, this is worser…” Not my preference.
Thank you for reading!