You wait for ages for a movie about a red-haired Irish woman just out of prison, and two come along at once. Well that’s not quite true. Wild Rose stars rising Irish star Jessie Buckley, but it is a Scottish movie. And there was two years between the making of it and A Date for Mad Mary. It just happens that I saw them at the same time.
They are actually very different movies. However, the similarities in the opening act and the fact I absolutely love the performances of both the leads, made me decide to bend the rules and mention both movies.
Spoiler Free SynopsisAfter a short spell in prison “Mad” Mary can’t wait to get back to her life. The thoughts of reuniting with her best friend Charlene kept her going during her time in the cooler. She just wants to get back to how it was in the old days, even though Charlene is about to get married. However, she finds that everyone has moved on while she was cooling her heels in Mountjoy Jail . To add insult to injury, even though she is still the maid of honor, they haven’t bothered giving her a plus one. After all who would want to go with “Mad” Mary?
Will there be a second date?When I first heard about this movie, I thought it sounded like a low rent Muriel’s wedding rip off ,with less Abba and more cans of Bulmers. But I found an awful lot to enjoy in this indie film. It started life as a play titled 10 dates for Mad Mary by Yasmine Akram. The movie was then adapted and directed by the play’s original director Darren Thornton, with his brother Colin.
Séanna Kerslake’s (The Hole in the Ground) portrayal of Mary is sensitive, thoughtful and nuanced. Sure, she is volatile and obnoxious at times, but we understand that this is due to her fear and insecurity. Her fear of being mocked or patronized makes her lash out. In my experience, people who loudly trumpet that they don’t give a damn what other people think, are those consumed with worry or rage about what other people think.
The beauty of this movie is that all these conflicting emotions are shown through performance rather than being spelled out for us. A scene where Mary meets someone she has hurt doesn’t need exposition or sentimental music to tell us how to feel. Kerslake’s eyes and the fear on her victim’s face tell us what we need to know.
It is not perfect. It is a very low budget movie, so it creaks in a few places. The vulgar language won’t be for everyone. Although as someone who has been to quite a few pubs in Drogheda, it struck me as authentic. Incidentally, two of my dearest friends Conor & Colette live there now. I called Colette to ask her has she seen the movie. “Of course, I did” She said, “doesn’t my cousin play the bride?”. That’s Ireland for you.
It is true though, that a quick look at IMDB shows that whatever about the choice vocabulary, a lot of people in the US struggled with the accent. It might be one for closed captions,at least on first watch.
Wild RoseA quick mention for Wild Rose seeing as I made the comparison. I was unsure whether to bring it up when talking about Mad Mary as the comparison isn’t totally accurate. Wild Rose,though a small movie by Hollywood standards, is big budget compared to Mad Mary and it’s not an Irish movie, it just has an Irish star. Yet the Scots are our spiritual cousins and it is a tremendous movie that also deserves to be seen.
Jessie Buckley is Rose-Lynn, a country music obsessed Glaswegian ex-con whose plan is to get to Nashville and become a famous singer. However, her real life keeps getting in the way. This is funny and tender and features a barnstorming performance by Buckley who’s a fabulously talented singer. Going by the Osmond scale on music, I’m definitely a little bit more Rock n Roll, but anyone who isn’t stopped dead by her performance of Peace in this House doesn’t really get music or movies.
Although both movies start in the same way, they are very different tales both very enjoyable. Mad Mary is a tentative first date over a pizza and Wild Rose is more of a trip to a club. So, depending on your mood, give both of these a try. I promise you’ll want to get their number afterwards.
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