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A Date for Mad Mary (2016)

A Date with Mad Mary poster.jpg

Darren Thornton’s adaptation (with his brother Colin) of his stage play is surprising: a female-centred comic drama set in the Irish Republic with the tangled knot of long-term friendship at its heart. Mary McArdle (Seana Kerslake) returns to her working class terraced home in Drogheda after a short stint in prison and the first person she wants to see is her best friend Charlene (Charleigh Bailey) who’s getting married in three weeks and she’s her maid of honour. Charlene never visited her and now expects her to turn up for fittings and sort out all the wedding things and Mary is miffed that Formerly Fat Leona is her other bridesmaid and she got a plus one – but Mary doesn’t because she never has a date. Then she meets wedding videographer Jess (Tara Lee) and they become friends while Mary dates any number of no-hopers and signs up with an agency looking for someone to accompany her to the wedding, which creates all kinds of complications when bridezilla Charleigh bumps into her meeting a gay guy for the first time just as they’re agreeing to go to other people’s weddings. Mary’s feelings for Jess confuse her and we learn from an online video just how she wound up in prison and in the fast food joint where she works her victim shows up and both are shocked by the experience – Mary flashes to the scarred face and is horrified by the consequences of her mad behaviour. Her up and down friendship with Charlene hits a major bump when she presents her with her own speech for the big day – and she finally hears just how badly people have suffered from her actions. She has a one night stand with Jess and everything contrives to trigger another night of madness … This is really a surprising, mature, funny, satisfying film with an amazing performance by Kerslake. Her relationships are realistic, empathetic and never dull. The foul language has an in-built critic in the text – everyone tells Mary to stop cursing – the story is told in inventive ways and everything harks back to the school yard but slowly everyone is growing up, however hard it may be and however much pride needs to be swallowed. This is worth catching.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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