I grew up with girls like mad Mary. Rough, troubled, loyal, resilient, strong. She reminds me of what Tina Fey says and shows about who we call crazy women. The contradictions in shunning women like Mary who are close to us. But Mary is the kind of character who shapes Darren Thornton’s A Date With Mad Mary. It captures young angst so well and vividly. Seeing this makes me excited not just of the Irish cinema that gets into regular theatres. It also makes me want to find its secrets like this film that only gets attention through the festivals.
Seana Kerslake plays the titular young woman ending her prison. As a free woman she has to reckon with the consequences of the outside world. But first, she has to be the reluctant maid of honour for her best friend Charlene (Charleigh Bailey). She also defiantly looks for a plus one for the wedding like Zac Efron and Adam Devine do. Her search is better though because her own search reveals new things about herself and those around her.
One of Mary’s duties as maid of honour gets her a fortuitous meeting with a videographer named Jess (Tara Lee). Their journey takes place in the Irish city of Drogheda but her struggle is universal. They rediscover the city as a free woman but Mary’s violent past keeps her in check. And Kerslake is exceptional not just in Mary’s loud moments but also in ones where she show’s Mary’s softer side. Her performance puts this film right up my alley.
Darren and his brother Colin Thornton adapted it from Yasmine Akram’s one-woman monologue 10 Dates with Mad Mary. I want to see that version. But the one we have on screen is raw and inherently cinematic and I’m grateful for it.