Contemporary World Cinema | 2016 | 82 minutes
Stranger Says: The titular character, Mary, played by Seána Kerslake, reminiscent of an Irish, redheaded Scarlett Johansson, is indeed mad. Mad at the world, mad at her family, mad at her best friend, Char, who is getting married. Mary has been sprung from prison for an assault, has a bad rep around town, and gets drunk and thrown out of clubs in her small Irish town, Drogheda, located near Dublin, on the regular. Ostensibly, much of the movie is built around Mary trying in vain to find a date for the wedding. Her high-school best friend has become a bridezilla—a snobby perfectionist trying to shed her lower-class roots—and she clearly merely tolerates Mary and needs Mary’s date to be “acceptable.” But the usual rom-com plot unfurls to reveal something more touching and nuanced—as well as an unexpected love story. (TRICIA ROMANO)
SIFF Says:In this wonderfully poignant Irish charmer from first-time director Darren Thornton, “Mad” Mary McArdle returns to her suburban Dublin home after six months in gaol for an incident she’d rather forget. Meanwhile, her best friend, Charlene, is soon to be married, with Mary set to be her maid of honor―a situation neither woman seems particularly thrilled about. When Charlene refuses Mary a plus-one on the grounds that she probably won’t find a date, Mary becomes determined to prove her wrong. But her attempts at dating are disastrous, and she winds up feeling even more alone than before―that is, until she meets Jess, Charlene’s wedding videographer, who, like Mary, is equally adrift around blissfully happy couples. Amid all the wedding madness, Mary and Jess connect, and what starts as a friendship soon becomes more intimate. However, when Charlene learns of Mary’s new love, it further complicates their already fraught friendship, and Mary realizes that if she doesn’t take responsibility for her life soon, she may lose both Charlene and Jess. As Mary, Seána Kerslake gives a breakthrough performance, investing her character with a foulmouthed charm that manages to be sassy and sardonic, yet vulnerably tender as well.
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