Karen Gillan (of Doctor Who and Marvel fame) steps behind the camera for the first time to bring us The Party’s Just Beginning, a surprisingly dark film about suicide and the impact that it has on those who remain. Gillan plays Lucy, a young woman living with her parents, who spends her days behind the cheese counter in the local supermarket and her nights in the bars, back alleys and bedrooms of her home town of Inverness. The suicide of her best friend Matthew (Matthew Beard) has shaken Lucy to her core and as she struggles to cope she finds herself living voyeuristically through her neighbours, who she watches out of her bedroom window, spending hours on the phone to an elderly man who called her by accident but with whom she seems to have a great deal in common and attempting to form some sort of relationship with Englishman Dale (Lee Pace), despite the fact that he is destined to leave her for his real life in London.
The film’s supporting cast boasts an array of Scottish acting talent with Jamie Quinn, Paul Higgins and Siobhan Redmond all putting in excellent work. The latter two play Lucy’s parents who, despite wanting the best for her, are too wrapped up in their own lives to properly support their daughter. Technically the film has a deft touch; the soundscape is particularly effective in illustrating how events which Lucy witnesses stick in her mind long after the images themselves have faded. Reoccurring flashbacks, whether they be to happy memories of time spent with Matthew or nightmares about her own struggle with depression and subsequent alcoholism, are emotionally evocative but at times somewhat muddled.
Gillan does not portray Inverness in a particularly positive light, using much of the same imagery that Trainspotting or Ratcatcher used to depict the drearier, dirtier side of urban Scotland. However, The Party’s Just Beginning does authentically capture the mood of the place, at least through the eyes of Lucy, and with visits to the Munlochy Clootie Well and the suburban maze of footpaths, bridges and motorways it feels as though Gillan is attempting to capture the spirit of her hometown in the same as other iconic Scottish films have captured the spirit of Edinburgh and Glasgow.