Competition: Win ‘A Date For Mad Mary’ on DVD

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A Date for Mad Mary is out on DVD and On Demand on 3rd February.

A Date For Mad Mary tells the story of ‘Mad’ Mary McArdle returning to Drogheda after a short spell in prison – for something she’d rather forget.  Back home, everything and everyone has changed.  Her best friend, Charlene, is about to get married and Mary is maid of honour.  When Charlene refuses Mary a ‘plus one’ on the grounds that she probably couldn’t find a date, Mary becomes determined to prove her wrong.  Her attempts at dating are a disaster and she winds up feeling more alone… until she meets Jess and everything changes.

Hailed by Film Ireland as “beautifully written, directed, performed and shot”, A Date For Mad Mary is a tough, tender and funny story about friendship, first love, and letting go of the glory days.

Directed by Darren Thornton, it stars Seána Kerslake (Can’t Cope/Won’t Cope), Tara Lee (The Fall, Raw) and Charleigh Bailey.

Fancy nabbing your own date with Mad Mary? Thanks to our good friends at Element Pictures we have 3 copies of the film to give away on DVD. To be in with a chance of winning, email filmireland@gmail.com with A Date for Mad Mary in the subject line.

Please include a postal address. Winners will be notified by e-mail. Good luck.

 

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Video Interview: Seána Kerslake and Charleigh Bailey, A Date for Mad Mary

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Irish Film Review: A Date for Mad Mary

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DIR: Darren Thornton • WRI: Colin Thornton, Darren Thornton • PRO: Juliette Bonass, Ed Guiney • DOP: Ole Bratt Birkeland • ED: Tony Cranstoun, Juangus Dinsmore • DES: Kieran McNulty • CAST: Seána Kerslake, Tara Lee, Charleigh Bailey, Fionnuala Murphy, Chris Newman, Kelly Byrne

 

It’s no surprise that Darren Thornton’s A Date for Mad Mary was joint winner of Best Irish Feature at the Galway Film Fleadh, or that Seána Kerslake lifted the Bingham Ray New Talent Award for her role as Mary. From the very start, it is clear that this is an accomplished film with authenticity and heart at its core. While a coming of age movie, it manages to skilfully avoid the clichés which viewers may have come to expect, offering a new and interesting perspective on the genre.

We first meet Mary McArdle as she returns to her home town of Drogheda, having served six months in prison. Her best friend Charlene, consummately played by Charleigh Bailey, is getting married in three weeks and Mary, as maid of honour, has immediate work to do. This doesn’t simply involve wedding duties; she must renegotiate her place in a seemingly familiar world which appears to have changed irrevocably, particularly in terms of those in it. The most important person to her is bride-to-be Charlene, the change in whom is the most difficult for Mary to understand. No longer interested in the life they once enjoyed, Charlene judges Mary for, among other things, her failure to aspire to or fulfil the same desires as her.

Mary’s role as head bridesmaid is at once an honour, and a stick to beat her with as she appears to embody everything Charlene, and fellow bridesmaid Leona (Siobhan Shanahan), are disdainful of. Her only support comes from mother Suzanne (Denise McCormack). Indeed, Mary is seen as such a disaster by her friend and fellow bridesmaid that she couldn’t possibly need a plus one for the wedding, and she thus sets out to prove them wrong by finding a date.

Her quest is a source of gentle humour, and her subsequent compelling relationship with singer and videographer Jess (Tara Lee) is a joy to watch unfold on foot of its organic and understated development, and the chemistry between the pair.

As we embark with Mary on this tempestuous three weeks in her life, we see that she’s right about some things, but perhaps not them all.

A Date for Mad Mary is beautifully written, directed, performed and shot. Its power and richness lies in its subtlety and the personal, upfront nature of its narrative. It might have been tempting to utilise the character of Mary to offer something of a social commentary given her particular circumstances, but the focus on the personal and individual is refreshing and allows an intimate relationship to blossom between Mary and the viewer.

The strength of the casting is such that it’s difficult to imagine anyone else in each of the parts. In particular, Seána Kerslake’s performance is strong and measured, and she evokes great sympathy, even at Mary’s worst moments. Charleigh Bailey imbues Charlene with great believability, and there is a palpable truth in every scene they share.

Authenticity and subtlety lend a wonderful simplicity to the film without belying the depth and complexity of its characters and narrative. Honest, human and genuine, A Date with Mad Mary is not one you’ll want to miss.

Emma Hynes

82 minutes
15A (See IFCO for details)

A Date for Mad Mary is released 2nd September 2016

A Date for Mad Mary – Official Website

 

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Trailer ‘A Date for Mad Mary’

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A Date for Mad Mary tells the story of ‘Mad’ Mary McArdle returning to Drogheda after a short spell in prison – for something she’d rather forget. Back home, everything and everyone has changed. Her best friend, Charlene, is about to get married and Mary is maid of honour. When Charlene refuses Mary a ‘plus one’ on the grounds that she probably couldn’t find a date, Mary becomes determined to prove her wrong. But her attempts at dating are a disaster and she winds up feeling more alone… until she meets Jess and everything changes.

Darren Thornton’s debut feature is a tough and tender story about friendship, first love, and letting go of the glory days, starring Seána Kerslake (Can’t Cope/Won’t Cope, The Lobster), Tara Lee (Raw, The Fall) and Charleigh Bailey.

“Deservedly receiving a standing ovation for its exceptional central performances and seamless ability to shift between the comic and the poignant, this moving story of friendship, family and love is note-perfect in its execution and provides real evidence of the depth of talent within Irish filmmaking at this moment.”

Read Conn Holohan’s review of A Date For Mad Mary from the Galway Film Fleadh here 

A Date For Mad Mary is in cinemas 2nd September 2016

 

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Review of Irish Film at Galway Film Fleadh: A Date for Mad Mary

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Conn Holohan finds himself on a date with Mad Mary. Darren Thornton’s debut feature screened at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

In what has been an exceptionally strong year for new Irish releases at the Galway Film Fleadh, no film captured the confidence and competence of Irish cinema in this seemingly golden period quite like A Date for Mad Mary. Deservedly receiving a standing ovation for its exceptional central performances and seamless ability to shift between the comic and the poignant, this moving story of friendship, family and love is note-perfect in its execution and provides real evidence of the depth of talent within Irish filmmaking at this moment.

In its barest outline, the plot of A Date for Mad Mary seems in danger of collapsing into a collection of well-worn coming of age scenarios. We meet Mary as she is released from jail just three weeks before her long-time friend, and fellow troublemaker, Charlene, is to be married. Returning home to take up her rightful place by her best friend’s side, however, Mary discovers that all has changed in her absence. Charlene prefers dinner with her fiancé to tearing up the town. Her role as Maid of Honour seems under threat from the charmless Leona, amusingly played by Siobhan Shanahan. Although Charlene remains friendly, Mary’s late-night phone calls to her go repeatedly unanswered. Her newfound pariah status is confirmed by the news that she will not be receiving a ‘plus one’ to the wedding, as the prospect of ‘Mad Mary’ being able to find a man seems an unlikely prospect to all, cueing the search for the eponymous date. The scenario seems set for a journey of discovery, involving a montage of awkward dates, an encounter with Mr Right, and a final, emotional reunion with Charlene, the true object of Mary’s love.

The brilliance of A Date for Mad Mary lies in how it knowingly negotiates all the potential pitfalls of genre convention: acknowledging them (there is indeed such a montage), but always veering away from easy laughs or expected payoffs. The intelligence of writing, direction and performance evident in the film ensures the emotional truth and complexity of the characters’ situations is respected throughout, never allowing any character to drift into a type. Whilst all of the actors deserve praise, in particular Charleigh Bailey for her performance as Charlene, a role which could easily have been played for Bridezilla laughs, special mention must go to Seána Kerslake as Mary. Her performance moves from explosive anger to touching vulnerability, whilst portraying the inherent decentness of a character who has done some less than decent things; and from the moment she shares a screen with videographer Jess (Tara Lee), their chemistry sizzles. As their relationship develops, and the emotional coordinates of Mary’s life begin to shift, the film quietly captures the simple pleasure of being in the presence of someone you find captivating.

Directed by Darren Thornton, and co-written with his brother Colin, A Date for Mad Mary manages the all-too-rare achievement of putting female characters and relationships on screen that feel honest and authentic, and absolutely unconcerned with the opposite sex: if there were a Bechdel test for men, this film would fail it gloriously.

 

A Date for Mad Mary screened on Fri 8 July 2016 as part of the Galway Film Fleadh

 

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‘A Date for Mad Mary’ Commences Principal Photography

Principal Photography has begun on Darren Thornton’s debut feature A Date for Mad Mary.

‘Mad’ Mary McArdle returns to Drogheda after a short spell in prison – for something she’d rather forget. Back home, everything and everyone has changed. Her best friend, Charlene, is about to get married and Mary is the Maid of Honour. When Charlene refuses Mary a ‘plus one’ for the wedding, on the grounds that she probably couldn’t find a date, Mary is determined to prove her wrong. She throws herself into the local dating scene, in the hope of finding a nice guy who’ll look good in a tux. But finding a date in a town where everyone knows your name, and your reputation, is not going to be easy…

A Date for Mad Mary is a funny and truthful story about a small town girl struggling to find her way in a grown up world.

The film stars an ensemble of young Irish actors including Seana Kerslake, Charleigh Bailey and Tara Lee as well as established talent including Denise McCormack and Norma Sheehan.

A Date for Mad Mary will shoot in and around Dublin and Drogheda for 5 and half weeks and is backed by the Irish Film Board, Element Pictures Distribution, BAI and TV3.

 

 

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