MARY GOES ROUND is the story of Mary.
Mary (Aya Cash) is what one might called a loser. Her family split up when she was a child and, after her mother died, she was left alone, uninterested in (and maybe incapable of ) reconnecting with her father, Walt (John Ralton). She drinks to excess, crashes a car, loses her boyfriend and suspended from her job. Her life goes round, nowhere. Hailing from Toronto, she decides to leave, but not for the better as she discovers. Despite the negativity facing Mary, the film turns out to be quite upbeat, credit going to writer-director Molly McGlynn who allows her poor heroine a path of redemption.
Mary is a substance abuse counsellor who ironically gets arrested for a DUI. When she returns to her hometown of Niagara Falls, she learns that her estranged father is dying of cancer and wants her to form a bond with her teenaged half-sister Robyn (Sara Waisglass) that she’s never met. All this might sound like boring family drama but writer-director Molly McGlynn knows how to liven up the festivities. Yes, Robyn is as much a shit disturber as Mary. Mary also has money problems. She has to pay her lawyer. She is being charged for drunken driving and to make matters worse, has to appear in court.
McGlynn’s film benefits from her unique spirited style, complemented by the film’s main character, Mary. Humorous is the way Mary tries to control her drinking but is incapable of it. Her shenanigans, getting drunk in a bar, getting laid, having sex with strangers and often getting sick are done with a wry sense of humour instead of being done dead seriously.
The film is not without sentiment. McGlynn includes a touching moment when the father reminds Mary when she was kind as a child when he and to pull her from a bum because she was going to give him her allowance to allow the bum to save to buy a house.
The only friend Mary has in Niagara is black. When she shows up at the door to drive the father to the hospital, his look of surprise is in itself a surprise. A sly message of acceptance is included in the story.
The best scene in the film is the one when Mary absolutely loses it and tells off her dad – while he is in hospital. Then she goes off to tell her black friend off, who ends up telling Mary off. Actress Aya Cash proves her acting chops in these two scenes. This is the reason McGlynn’s film works. She keeps the film dramatic, smart and funny throughout. Mary can be right, then wrong – strong then vulnerable in the next moment.
“Good people do shitty things,” so says Mary’s boss when questioned why she does not get fired after caught drunken driving. Mary’s boss has faith in Mary in an awkward meeting that demonstrates faith in the good of human beings. MARY GOES ROUND is solid Canadian fare that comes with an upbeat message as well.