Marking her debut as a feature director, Guardians of the Galaxy actress Karen Gillan traveled from the furthest reaches of the universe way back down to earth for her harrowing drama The Party’s Just Beginning — and EW can exclusively debut the film’s trailer.
In addition to writing and directing the coming-of-age drama, Gillan plays the lead role of Liusaidh, a young woman grappling with a close friend’s suicide. “Personally, the message would be to tell the story of a person who’s left behind [after a suicide], who’s left with feelings of resentment of how the person could commit such a selfish act and maybe come to an understanding of where that person was when they were in that position,” the actress and filmmaker previously told EW. The film is also a “twisted love letter” to Gillan’s native Scotland, she said: “I’m incredibly proud of where I come from and it’s such a beautiful place, [so] I’m interested in showing the beauty but also the darker side of it as well.”
Gillan, who’s best known for her roles in studio spectacles like Guardians of the Galaxy and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and on the BBC series Doctor Who, began working on the script for The Party’s Just Beginning around six years ago. She’s since edited out “all of those cringe-worthy philosophical rantings” her twentysomething self penned in early drafts. The finished product is a haunting exploration of Liusaidh’s downward spiral after her former companion leaps in front of a train shortly after coming out as transgender.
Liusaidh tries to cope by binging on alcohol, sex, and late-night junk food, while visions of her friend’s dying image plague her waking life. And that’s where Gillan found the bulk of the project’s dramatic worth.
“In this recurring sequence of events, it’s all just slightly harmful to her. She’s pouring alcohol into her body, and then she’s excessively shoving food into her face and having mindless sex with strangers. It all leads to this recurring image that she can’t shake [of seeing her friend dying]. It’s all a sequence of self-harm,” Gillan said. “I definitely wanted to treat the subject matter with respect and sensitivity. I’ve seen suicide represented in cinema before, but not that much. It’s still fairly unchartered territory, and definitely from this perspective, within this film, I wanted to show what it’s like for a person who’s left behind afterwards.”
The Party’s Just Beginning opens Dec. 7 in limited release and Dec. 11 on VOD. Watch the exclusive trailer above.