The San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILMFestival) features the Irish dramedy A Date for Mad Mary. Mary (Seána Kerslake) has just been released from incarceration and faces this challenge: she’s going to be the Maid of Honor at her childhood BFF’s wedding, and she needs a date for the nuptials. This apparently isn’t the first time that Mary’s been locked up for brawling because she quickly resorts to pounding other humans. This is a character flaw which is getting in the way of her, among other normal pursuits, finding a feller.
With this set-up, the audience is expecting a broad Dating-Gone-Wrong comedy, and there is a bit of that, but A Date for Mad Mary drills down to explore the character of Mary, somehow still frozen in her teenage pose. Mary has a major chip on her shoulder and escalates every human contact into an outburst of hostility. She just hasn’t matured into a woman who can navigate any social situation. The annoyingly controlling bride-to-be Char (Charleigh Bailey) has grown out of the teen Tough Girl pose, and has moved on the having a life with a job and a fiance. Mary, on the other hand, can’t keep a job or a guy or anything that will make her satisfied, self-proud or happy. Eventually, Mary meets a new friend Jess (Tara Lee) and wall-bangs her way down the corridor of self-discovery.
Seána Kerslake’s excellent performance is central to the success of the film, playing a character who is confused by her own lack of happiness. Unforgettably, Kerslake’s Mary kisses another character and is overwhelmed by an unexpected, giddy thrill – it’s a special moment. A Date for Mad Mary is the fifth feature since 2012 for up-and-comer Kerslake, who is also starring in an Irish television series.
A Date for Mad Mary is the first feature for director and co-writer Darren Thornton. A Date for Mad Mary will be screened again this weekend at the San Francisco International Film Festival.