A Date For Mad Mary – a Drogheda girl reviews

There are advantages to being from a small town. Ok, it’s a pretty big town. Actually it’s the biggest town in Ireland. But never mind that. It still feels like a small town. As in, if someone was on telly, you’d probably know them or least recognise them or be familiar with someone that shifted their cousin. Know what I mean?

So you can imagine the pure joy on the whole town’s face when a proper movie, one that’s in the cinemas and everything, was released to rave reviews. It didn’t even go straight to DVD. No, it arrived, ready to be beamed onto a forty foot screen for the whole local population to go and watch and see if they could spot themselves.

(This is the most exciting cinema experience we’ve had since Michael Collins leaned over that bridge with Broy near Laytown.)

A Date For Mad Mary is filmed in Drogheda, written by Drogheda brothers Darren and Colin Thornton, directed by Darren Thornton and adapted from a play by Drogheda woman, Yasmine Akram.

And yes I do know them. Kind of. Well my husband does anyway, definitely.

What I really know is that all have a drama, theatre and film pedigree they have been working on for years. When I was a whippersnapper they were on stage producing plays. And when I myself was treading the boards being all expressive through my teenage angst, they were had already moved into a world where their work was being acclaimed on TV. Remember Love is the Drug TV series back in 2004? Yep, directed by Darren Thornton.

So it was with much joy and booking of the babysitter that we headed off the watch the filum (that’s how we say it in Drog) last Friday night.

The posters for the movie show a rather scroungy looking young lady, dressed in her finest tracky gear. This is Mad Mary.



The story follows the troubled Mary who is released from prison at the start of the movie and arrives home to her native Drogheda. Here she sets about finding her way and trying to fit back into the world she left behind.

The narrative focuses on the upcoming wedding of Mary’s best friend Charlene, who has changed since Mary remembers. She doesn’t want to go drinking during the day. She has a new sophisticated circle. It seems – she has grown up. So, to try and grow up a little herself, Mary sets herself the task of finding a date for Charlene’s wedding – to show that she too fits in and like everyone else, is good enough to have a boyfriend.

Throughout the scenes, we see how Mary falls back to her old ways,  getting in trouble, even when she feels she is doing nothing wrong. We find out why she went to prison in the first place and why she’s not always the best friend to have around.

Despite her tendency to bring trouble on herself, it was hard not to feel sorry for Mary and as with all good protagonists, you side with her from the very start,  understanding why she does the things she does and how she deals with all her disappointments.

It’s not my fault I’m mad, really

Mad Mary could represent any and every young woman in any and every town in Ireland. Her story is one of disadvantage, of misunderstanding, of making mistake after mistake in a world where she goes unloved.

It’s a tale of coming of age. Of reaching maturity. Of leaving friendships behind you have outgrown and meeting new people who offer a new world, where you can become your adult self – the person you are meant to be.

I really liked it.

Me and Mad Mary. We could relate. Except for the head butting. That, we did not have in common.

I liked the grittiness of it – the touches on drugs and violence, on prison and disadvantage. Mary has few options in her life. And I thought it told the story of how people come to be what they are very well. Have you ever thought about why that person who was always a bit rough and fighting and who you were a little bit afraid of came to be who they are?

It’s not often you get to see a movie that is female led and follows a female story, that isn’t a chick flick but doesn’t aim to bypass men.

Himself liked it. I liked it. Winning.

So, what about all the Drogheda scouting? And did we really see loads of people we knew?

Well yes and no. First of all the film is beautifully shot – I thought the continuity was great and despite us knowing where almost every scene was set, it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the story. We did recognise lots of people, but as the main characters are not from Drogheda (that I know of)  we just got lost in the movie.

This is very much a character led film. Seana Kerslake, who plays Mad Mary is superb. You wonder, all the way through, how she doesn’t burst into tears more, with all the pent up emotion. Charlene, played by Charleigh Bailey captures the bitchy friend so well – the one who you tell everything to, but keeps you at distance yourself. The girl who befriends Mary and offers her the only glimmer of hope and joy she has in this movie is played by Tara Lee, who looks like a young Madonna and weirdly, my sister.

If you’re looking for a good date movie, one that doesn’t involve explosions, pokemon or war, this is it. Brigid Jones Mad Mary is not.

Go and see it. Support Irish film.

And come to Drogheda. Sure it’s a grand ‘ol place.

If you enjoyed this you might like to read – Drogheda, an ode to my hometown

December Girl is now available on Audio. Visit Amazon or Audible or click on the cover below to download.

December Girl audiobook
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