A Date for Mad Mary

A Date for Mad Mary

(2016)

Comedy-drama sees "Mad" Mary McArdle return to Drogheda after a short spell in prison for something she'd rather forget. Back home, everything and everyone has changed. Her best friend, Charlene, is about to get married and Mary is maid of honour. When Charlene refuses Mary a 'plus one' on the grounds that she probably couldn't find a date, Mary becomes determined to prove her wrong.

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Flicks Review

Meet Mary: fresh from the slammer (post a short stay for a truculent nightclub attack on another female). Mad? Less crazy, more irate, Mary is defiant, candid, questioning - and increasingly typecast in her small-minded hometown of Drogheda (one of Dublin’s oldest villages). Shot in warm cinematic hues, this setting is initially homely and appealing. But the atmosphere is quickly turned up too high, pushing it into hotly uncomfortable territory. In Drogheda everyone knows your business. The parochial pressure of sameness and the cruelty dealt by an expectation of so-called normality overbears and constricts: it’s sincerely mean-spirited.... More

Having returned to this controlling collective ego, Mary’s on a hasty track to becoming the ugly duckling of the village - and as a species in contrast to the majority of the sanctimonious folk here, she’s increasingly perceived as outlandish, even hazardous. An easy target to judge and alienate, the actions of an impious Mary seem only to increasingly inspirit this perception. Yet, gratifyingly, the narrative does a stellar job of reversing the ugliness: as such, it squarely belongs to the smug. Mary exhaustively challenges the norm. It’s uncomfortable and f#&*kn awkward. (Yes, there’s a hell of a lot of swearing. It’s Ireland.)

Seána Kerslake brings balmy discernment to her portrayal of Mary, slyly bringing an enigmatic style to a boldly objectionable character. Her rebellious integrity makes Mary a shockingly likeable human to hang out with for 90-ish minutes. Full, resonant, rounded and exclusively female main characters keenly coalesce harsh comedy with fervent drama. This is a portrait of a feisty young woman identity fighting with convention - and we’re on her side.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

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BY Ian_Anderson superstar

Mary is out of jail just in time to be maid of honour at her best friend's wedding. Everyone also assumes that she won't be bringing a +1. Mary is, of course, outraged at the assumption.

If it was only about her ever more desperate attempts to find a pretend boyfriend it would be funny. But though Mary is the happiest dancing to loud music while drunk, she has also been tasked with wrangling the somewhat unreliable wedding photographer, who unwittingly sets Mary on a path of... More self-discovery.

An affectionate view of a stroppy shiela.Hide


The Press Reviews

  • The brilliance of A Date for Mad Mary lies in how it knowingly negotiates all the potential pitfalls of genre convention: acknowledging them (there is indeed such a montage), but always veering away from easy laughs or expected payoffs. Full Review

  • Kerslake and Lee leave enough of an impression to be able to use this film as a gateway to greater things. Full Review

  • There are a few 19th century Scandinavian playwrights who might envy Thornton and Akram their gifts for moulding personae. Full Review

  • A Date for Mad Mary is an exquisitely written, delicately made and superbly acted gem that will only get better with age and reflection. Full Review

  • Darren and Colin Thornton have done a really nice job adapting Yasmine Akram's play 10 Dates for Mad Mary, giving it a strong sense of place and time, and creating full, rich, rounded and almost exclusively female characters. Full Review

  • Mad Mary is a delight, especially for its rounded supporting characters, its skewering use of language, and the pinpoint accuracy of its observations of life in this specific time and place. Full Review

  • For his debut, Darren Thornton delivers the love child of Weekend and Once, with Seána Kerslake (Dollhouse) delivering a breakout performance. Full Review

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