Toronto After Dark, Day 1: American Mary
Gorgeous. Sexy. Confident. Chilling.
American Mary is the story of a talented young surgical student. We know she is talented because she is able to perform her craft wearing nothing but lingerie with her garments surviving the process blood-free. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and she falls into the world of the body modification fetishism.
Created by two directors, the Soska Twins, who are clearly very passionate about the subject, this is a slick, well-shot film that simply oozes confidence and contains a lot of sleek, sexy imagery. Katharine Isabelle is simply stunning as Mary, and even at her most grotesque every shot is designed to capture the imagination. Each interior set is well-decorated to perfectly capture a mood. Industrial and classical music are interspersed to enhance the atmosphere. Stylistically, the film is a magnificent piece of work.
Unfortunately what it has in style it lacks somewhat in substance. The opening act is actually pretty good, but after running its course as a revenge flick, it meanders around aimlessly until an unexpected conclusion. We listen to Mary extol the rationale behind body modification to her clients, a little too urgently and explicitly, as the directors feel the need to sell the concept to the audience. We watch photography sessions and her meeting with extreme mod clients, none of which has much to do with the proceedings, aside from being an opportunity for a showcase. Mary is a closed book, nearly impossible to read. Her club owner partner-in-crime, played by Antonio Cupo, makes for a far more compelling character.
Leaving the theatre I was prepared to present an overall cautionary review. However, the more American Mary percolates in my brain, the less I remember its myriad flaws, and the more I fondly recall the style and confidence with which it was presented. That has to count for something. Perhaps sometimes what is on the surface really is what matters.
3 out of 5 stars.