Program 29: A Date For Mad Mary
Directed by Darren Thornton
“Mad” Mary McArdle isn’t terribly likable.You probably won’t care for her right off: she’s abrasive, foul-mouthed, and seemingly very selfish. But she’s going to win you over, as will this sweet, moving, and very charming film.
Mary (Seána Kerslake, who gives one of this year’s best performances) has just finished a 6-month stint in prison for a violent assault on a girl in a club. Her mother picks her up and takes her back home to Drogheda, just north of Dublin, Ireland. It’s a small enough town where everybody knows everybody’s business, and Mary’s is no different. She gets the side-eye wherever she goes; everybody knows who she is and what she did; and unsurprisingly, none of that makes Mary any more pleasant.
Luckily, she’s home just in time to make the hen party for her best childhood friend, Charlene, who’s getting married. Mary is the maid of honor, but as the film progresses, we wonder if that’s just an obligatory position because Charlene has changed…as has the entire town it seems, at least to Mary. Charlene has new friends and new interests and little tolerance for her old friend, which leaves Mary feeling hurt and lonely. When Charlene explains denying Mary a “plus one” for the wedding because “who would she possibly get as a date?,” Mary petulantly sets out to find just the right guy to take so she can prove to Charlene just how wrong she really is. Mary doesn’t count on how hard it might be to find a suitable man. She doesn’t count on her own impatience with them. And she certainly doesn’t count on Jess (Tara Lee, The Fall), the super cute, female musician she stumbles upon accidentally.
To say any more would give away too much of this film’s surprises, but A Date for Mad Mary is so much more than meets the eye. It’s ultimately about many different things, depending on how you look at it; it’s lovable and touching and heartwarming. It’s about finding yourself; it’s about forgiving yourself. It’s about letting go and moving forward and growing up, and it will stay with you long after the credits roll.
Six months in prison aside, we all have a little bit of Mad Mary in us.
— Georgia Beers
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- WINNER, Best Film – Irish Film & Television Awards
- WINNER, Best Supporting Actress, Charleigh Bailey – Irish Film & Television Awards
- WINNER, Best Irish Feature Film – Galway Film Fleadh
- WINNER, Bingham Ray Award for New Talent, Seána Kerslake – Galway Film Fleadh
- WINNER, Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking: Acting, Seána Kerslake – Newport Beach Film Festival
- JURY HONORABLE MENTION, Best Narrative Feature – OUTshine Miami LGBT FF
- AUDIENCE AWARD, Best Women’s Film – Queer North Film Festival (Canada)
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Czech Republic)
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Frameline SF Int’l LGBTQ Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Outfest LA LGBT Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Out Film CT Connecticut LGBT Film Festival