Trailer Park Thursday: “The Party’s Just Beginning” and “Gloria Bell”

Astrologers have long pointed to two major planetary transits as turning points in life: the first Saturn return, which affects those in their late twenties, and the second Saturn return, which happens twenty-nine years later. These are often times when priorities shift and crystallize, the threat of existential meltdown is imminent, and personal demons are faced head-on. Why are we talking about this? Because this past couple of weeks brought us trailers for two new movies that each feature a luminous, red-haired protagonist frankly navigating the waters of each of these seasons of change. Despite their difference in age, both protagonists radiate defiance born of facing growing pains, one as she enters adulthood and one as she enters what we’ll call, for lack of a better term, the “golden years.” Read on, and prepare to marvel at the celestial synchronicity:

Some of us know Karen Gillan as the eleventh Doctor’s traveling companion, Amy Pond, and some of us know her as Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers: Infinity War, and the upcoming Avengers 4 (whew). Get ready to see her in a whole new light, in her directorial debut, which she wrote, and in which she also stars. The Party’s Just Beginning took six years to write and five years to fund, so it’s safe to say that it’s an important project to her.

Who doesn’t love an anti-heroine? Gillan’s Liusaidh (pronounced “Loo-say”) certainly qualifies as an addition to the “messy woman protagonist” canon, joining everyone from Bridget Jones to Tiny Furniture’s Aura and Obvious Child’s Donna Stern. By day, she hawks cheese under nightmarish fluorescent lights, and by night she indulges a darker, more self-destructive side. Between drunken, stolen-mic monologues, dubious intimacy, and fistfuls of greasy “chips,” Luisaidh fields judgy calls from Mum and hauntings from her best friend Alistair, who has died by suicide before the film’s beginning. She’s like Daria, but without the femme solidarity of true detachment. Yes, it’s safe to say that, for Liusaidh, Saturn is making a bit of a rough return. A Scottish film to its core, The Party’s Just Beginning was shot in Inverness and premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival. Like other upcoming releases, it played at Tribeca earlier this year, and will be in theaters on December 7, just in time to keep your spirits… well, maybe not bright, exactly, but certainly burning.

Liusaidh is clearly in the throes of a quarter-life crisis, but Gloria Bell’s titular lead is an empty-nester, and while the former seems to be pushing the world away, the latter is trying to let it in. It starts innocently enough, but soon nights on the dance floor turn to dates at the paintball range. Wait, what?

Sebastián Lelio’s last movie was the steamy, claustrophobic Disobedience, starring Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz. Gloria Bell, by contrast, is exuberant. It’s also a fairly faithful scene-for-scene remake of his 2013 Chilean film Gloria, but undeniably with a little more humor injected into its heart. It’s hard to argue with a vehicle like this for Julianne Moore who, like Gloria, is pushing sixty and just getting started. Nothing against Paulina García, who starred in Lelío’s Gloria five years ago, of course — there’s room for more than one interpretation of this complicated, charismatic character. With Gloria, A Fantastic Woman, Disobedience, and now Gloria Bell, which will be in theaters beginning March 9, 2019, Lelío has developed an oeuvre full of women protagonists that know their worth and give very few, uh, hecks. They may have been more like “messy woman protagonists” in their younger years, but now their defiance comes from a place of self-love rather than anger. It’s great to see that there’s room on-screen for both.

We love looking forward to upcoming releases as much as we love looking back at movies from the recent past! Check out our articles on “Reality Bites,” “Hero,” and “Hudson Hawk,” and our videos on “Lady Bird” and “Marie Antoinette.”
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