Bridesmaids with More Emotional Depth and an Irish Sense of humour
A Date for Mad Mary is an Irish drama starring Seána Kerslake, with supporting roles from Tara Lee and Carleigh Bailey. The film centres on young Mary, who has recently been released from prison after being convicted for assault. Her efforts to fit back into her old life- and particularly into her old relationship with her lifelong friend Charlene- are depicted through a series of failed attempts to find herself a date for Charlene’s wedding, and a series of failed and painful attempts to put her life in order.
Director Darren Thornton said that the inspiration for Mary’s character and her story were the coming of age films of John Hughes, such as 16 Candles. However, for a millennial like myself, who has not been in contact with those films, A Date for Mad Mary is more like Bridesmaids: take the same concept of a woman whose life is a mess and tries to get it together before her best friends’ wedding, replace the American sense of humour with a hot load of Irish sarcasm, throw some subtle drama into the mix and you will get a great piece of Irish cinematography that is really worth supporting.
Seána Kerslake does a stellar job in portraying Mary as a young woman from a small working class town who is tough yet vulnerable. You want to protect her and help her fix her life throughout the film. It’s a testament to both the film and her performance how easily as an audience member you sympathise with her character.
Tara Lee and Carleigh Bailey’s performances strongly compliment Seána Kerslake’s. They present a great trio of characters who manage to be natural and profound, while also being incredibly funny. Thornton has stated that it was Kerslake’s subtle interpretation of Mary during the auditions what laid the foundation for this film, with the other female characters being subsequently cast to build the dynamic around her. And he successfully did it, managing to create great chemistry and authentic female relationships that viewers from any background will identify with.
This leads me to my final point about A Date for Mad Mary, the relatability of the main character herself. As mentioned, the film leaves you little choice but to sympathise with the eponymous character whose views you wouldn’t necessarily consider in real life. That is because, although her situation may not be relatable, we can strongly identify with her relationships. We might not have been in prison, we might not have been brought up in a rough area of a small town in Ireland. However, we’ve all had friendships that have fallen apart. We’ve all gone different ways from lifelong friends and manically tried to push our friendship back where it used to be; we’ve all been confused about our lives and future and especially, in this day and age; we’ve all gone through a series of really unfortunate dates just to feel like we belong to this world where everyone seems to be having a very exciting love life. By focusing on all these themes, the film surfaces experiences that we all share despite potential differences of class, gender or other factors we might consider divisive.
A Date for Mad Mary will make you laugh, might make you cry, and it will definitely be a breath of fresh air from the plethora of American Superhero films out there.
The is showing in cinemas nationwide.