Saturday, April 27, 2013

American Mary

Description from Netflix:
Medical student Mary Mason is becoming dissatisfied with her path in life, mostly because she’s piling up massive debt.  But when she’s offered a lucrative opportunity to get involved in extreme body-modification surgeries, she jumps at the chance.

My thoughts:
Sure.  The massive debt factored into her dissatisfaction.  She was in school to become a surgeon, after all, and that isn’t cheap.
You know what her main driving decision was, though?  My money would be on getting drugged and raped by one of her professors.  She had delved into the world of body modification before that point, but it was more of a one-off surgery to get some money.  After being raped, she dropped out of school and started doing body-modification on a more full-time basis.

First, the good.  I loved Katharine Isabelle as Mary Mason.  She had a complex character to play, and she nailed every scene.  I can’t imagine a better actress for this role.

Whether through the style or my sheer confusion, I found myself interested the entire time.  The running time is 103 minutes, but I never once felt bored, or found myself staring at my watch, imploring it to move along.  Considering it’s a slow-moving movie, that’s a pretty impressive feat.
To me, this film kind of had the same feel as Excision.  But that’s probably because they both involve surgery, and I’m not very imaginative when it comes to comparing movies.

Anyone who knows me know that I enjoy a good revenge movie.  I assume it comes from my love of Westerns.  (Also, Payback is one of my all-time favorite movies.)  So, when this film took a turn towards the revenge side of things, I was completely on board.  It was a different kind of revenge than I was used to.  After all, she was a surgeon.  Things were bound to get really weird.
And they did.
But only a little bit.  And that was only a minor part of the story.

And that was really my main problem with this film.  It didn’t seem like it knew what it wanted to be.  It was all over the map.  It was a revenge movie.  It was a female empowerment movie.  It was a cautionary tale to those heading down the wrong path.  It was a kind of love story. 

It was all those things and more.  Sometimes it worked.  Other times, it felt directionless.  A bunch of ideas all crammed into one movie, without necessarily being connected all the time.  It felt disjointed and strained.  It definitely could’ve been tightened up a bit.

I can apply that same criticism to the characters in general.  Many of them seemed to change depending on the scene.  More specifically, Mary’s character changed multiple times throughout the film, often with little-to-no reason.  Scene-to-scene, I never knew what I was going to get.  Would it be the confident surgeon?  The revenge-seeker with ice water in her veins?  The timid student?  The hardened businesswoman?  As I mentioned earlier, Katharine Isabelle was great as all those things, but the swing between all of them was jarring at times.

I feel like they were trying to make a very important movie with a very important message, yet I didn’t quite understand because of the disjointed nature of it all.  However, it’s also quite possible that I didn’t get it because I’m not an overly intelligent person.  That option is certainly still on the table.

As it was, I still liked it.  But I feel like I easily could’ve loved this film.
This is only the second full-length film from the Twisted Twins (Jen & Sylvia Soska).  While far from perfect, it showed a ton of promise.  I can’t wait to see what they do next. 

Rating: 3/5

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