Review: “A Date for Mad Mary” is a tender coming of age story

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In “A Date for Mad Mary,” a woman just released from prison comes home to find out she’s the maid of  honor in her best friend’s wedding. Not only that, but she’s required to give a speech and bring a man who will match her dress. Mary goes on a series of dates in search of the bare-minimum man, a man suitable enough to not further ruffle the bride, Charlene’s feathers, but not necessarily someone she’s romantically or sexually interested in. After all, when it comes to guys, she reveals she’s “bad at it.” Haven’t we all heard that from a woman who isn’t ready to call herself a lesbian?

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This movie is shy of the mark for a romantic comedy because as a romance, we don’t get enough time with Mary, played by heavily-accented hottie Seana Kerslake, pining after or pursuing the mysterious, swoon-worthy bisexual Jess, played by Tara Lee. The movie’s comedic elements are understated. Or maybe just Irish?  The dialogue offered many a clever zinger, but I can’t remember laughing out loud.

I think this movie is more of a coming of age/coming into one’s sexuality movie than a romance or a comedy, despite how it’s been reviewed or advertised. And on that level, it’s very good. Mad Mary deserves the best, but keeps sabotaging her own life with a serious (and largely unexplained) rage problem. Despite her heavy drinking and low-key self-pity, she’s easy to cheer on, as she demonstrates loyalty and devotion to her best friend. She’s pretty much in love with Charlene, but like everything in this movie, the homo vibes are suggested and understated.

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More important than any romantic feelings for Charlene is the sense that Mad Mary is losing her best friend against her best efforts, and that without Charlene, she has no one but her racist granny and her house-head mom. She can’t even go to the club without getting kicked out, because everyone in small-town Drogheda knows what kind of mad she is.

I think what lesbians really need is a “My Best Friend’s Wedding” remake. Enough of us are/have been in love with our straight besties, wrapped up in emotionally monogamous but sexless relationships, until the straight friend finds a man and picks up some heterosexual friends to match. We need a cathartic comedy about unrequited love, where Julia Roberts or whoever relentlessly tries to sabotage Cameron Diaz or whoever’s wedding and win her love.

Until then, I will settle for the not-quite-romance, not-quite comedy, but nonetheless worthwhile, heart-tugging “A Date for Mad Mary.”

Official trailer:

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