Anxiety August nearly ended me last week with Poppy Shakespeare‘s all too real depiction of Mental Health and the ‘system’ that more often than not lets down the people who needs it most.
This week’s pick is a completely different kettle of fish and it also had me on the floor, so I’m just going to go with being a highly emotional individual because why change it now, eh?
A Date for Mad Mary (2016)
A woman newly released from prison seeks a date to bring to her best friend’s wedding.
Mary (the amazing Seána Kerslake) has just been released from prison for a crime we don’t know anything about yet. Straight off the bat we glimpse an angry side to her when she’s pissed at her mum for picking her up late (fair enough I guess).
As soon as she’s home Mary picks up the phone to call her BFF Charlene (Charleigh Bailey) who doesn’t answer but that’s understandable given she’s in the throes of planning her wedding, right?
Next morning there’s a (dreaded) group text instead asking the girls to be on time to a wedding dress fitting. This doesn’t go quite as well as planned as Mary has beef with the other bridesmaid Leona (Shobhan Shanahan) and then Charlene hands Mary an elocution CD for her Maid of Honour speech. Mary rightly points out that she speaks in exactly the same way as Charlene does.
Another bone of contention raises its head when Leona lets slip that Mary’s plus one has been given to a relative as they don’t think she’ll be able to get a date for the wedding in time. This spurs Mary on to secure one for this very event and in a panic, she makes up a new boyfriend called John Carter.
Reeling in the right candidate for this job proves more difficult than expected, however. Our Mary goes on a series of dates that lead nowhere, though things start to look up when she meets someone who seems keen to help her in her quest, if she’ll return the favour for his brother’s wedding.
Even Charlene’s into him when she bumps into the new ‘couple’ and promotes Mary’s date to usher because he’s so good looking and will make the wedding pictures look better. Unfortunately, Mary has a tendency to put her foot in her mouth and this pairing does not last beyond this meeting, despite how ideal it could be.
So Mary is left back at square one and things are not going well for her and Charlene, who seem to be drifting further apart with every passing day. She does have a new friend in Jess (Tara Lee) though, the lovely wedding videographer with a kind heart. After one particularly wild night, Mary is injured in a bar scuffle and Jess takes her to A&E to be patched up.
As Mary appears to be losing the increasingly self-centred Charlene (or normal, I’ll go with normal) this new and exciting friendship goes from strength to strength. Even more so when Jess decides to help Mary snare a date. The two women spend a weekend away on one of Jess’ wedding assignments and Mary decides to reveal her past to her new friend. Rather than run for the hills this seems to bring them closer.
But Mary is so good at messing things up and being a hot angry mess, will she bring the same old drama to Jess’ door?
Will she pull it together long enough for Charlene to get hitched without a hitch? Or will she return to her old ways, the one that saw her jailed for a nasty assault in a bar?
Only one way to find out, yo.
Well first of all I was DELIGHTED by the surprise romantic element, though maybe I should of seen it coming. What a great pairing! I was fully rooting for Jess and Mary as soon as it clicked into place and I thought it played out as a natural evolution of the characters, rather than played for novelty.
Mary is messed up and she’s damaged but she’s also hugely likable and there was no point in this film that I wasn’t on her side. She’s played perfectly by Kerslake who gives the part a magical element.
I watched this film with a huge knot in my stomach. People grow apart all the time and it’s heartbreaking but sometimes they’re forced to do it for their own preservation and I understand it all too well. It doesn’t hurt both parties any less however and one of the final scenes in which Charlene and Mary dance together at Charlene’s wedding is so beautiful I just cried and cried. Sometimes you don’t even need words.
4.5/5. Damn near perfect. And massive props for this being all about the female relationships, with the male characters very much secondary and resigned to the background.