Mary Goes Round  is a redemptive drama with dark comedic undertones. Mary is a substance abuse counsellor with a drinking problem. After a drunk driving accident, she loses her license, her job, and boyfriend. At the request of her estranged father Walt, Mary begrudgingly retreats to her hometown of Niagara Falls. With few other options, Mary is forced to come to terms with her estranged father who wants her to connect her with teen-aged half-sister, Robyn, whose mother walked out on the family. Robyn has no idea who Mary is. Or at least, she pretends not to.

As her sympathy for Robyn deepens, her outrage at Walt’s request diminishes. At an AA meeting, Mary meets Lou, a personal care worker who offers support and friendship. Walt is hospitalized. Robyn starts to self-destruct and Lou falls from her heroic pedestal. To keep this fractured unit together, Mary must confront her emotions, her demons, and her addiction. She, Robyn, Walt, and Lou must all learn what ‘family’ means.

SNAPSHOT REVIEW AND INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR, MOLLY MCGLYNN

Many Hollywood films are made as a form of escape for viewers. Horror, Sci-Fi, Comedy, Drama…there’s a predictable formula to most, no matter what the genre. There are some exceptions, however if you really want to experience real people in real life situations, more often than not you have to look beyond blockbusters to the many wonderfully told stories that emerge from the independent lens. Mary Goes Round is one of these films.

Mary Goes Round is the first feature film directed by award-winning Canadian Molly McGlynn and stars Aya Cash ( You’re The Worst, The Wolf of Wall Street), Sara Waisglass ( Degrassi : Next Class), John Ralston ( Two Lovers and a Bear), and Melanie Nicholls-King ( The Wire,  Rookie Blue). The film had its world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, received the “Panavision Independent Cinema” award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2017.

Molly McGlynn is a Toronto-based writer and director who was born in Montreal and grew up in New Jersey. So why is her first feature film primarily based in Niagara Falls, Ontario? Also, she states the character, Mary, is not about her, however the circumstances in each of their lives is quite strikingly similar. She seems to be following the old adage, write about what you know.

During our chat she divulged some of the similarities, “I’m not passing judgement, but Mary is an exaggerated version of someone I could have been. My mom died of cancer a few weeks after my university graduation, and my estranged father didn’t come to her funeral. He seems very happy with his wife and daughter, my half-sister, in the United States. I live in Toronto. This script draws parallels to events of my own history, but the characters and context are entirely fabricated to allow me creative freedom. I’m from an Irish Catholic family with a history of cancer, people estranging themselves from one another, and surprisingly unrelated, alcoholism. But we’re still a family of ferocious love and a dark sense of humour.”

The cast she selected are each equally powerful within their roles. McGlynn completed a Proust questionnaire for each of the characters, and passed it along to the actors to give them a deeper insight. Each character is separate and individual from the other, and no two are real allies, at least at the beginning of the story. Aya Cash pulls off an amazing feat as the gruff, self-determined, loner Mary, who doesn’t hold back with her comments and actions. For Robyn, McGlynn admitted “there’s an abundance of great actors in Toronto within that age category”, but it was Sara Waisglass and her “big brown eyes” that sealed the deal. That and her self-tape audition, and instructions from McGlynn to listen to Beyonce’s Daddy Lessons.

The cast is rounded out with John Ralston, who plays Walt, the deadbeat dad to Mary, who’s character is doomed to death within minutes of his arrival on screen. Finally, Melanie Nicolls-King plays the school-of-hard-knocks character, Lou, a work colleague of Mary’s who must use some tough-love techniques when Mary is first discovered showing symptoms of alcohol abuse. Remember, Mary works as a substance abuse counsellor. Each and everyone of these four individuals give superb performances. On a side note, McGlynn mentioned that Ralston and Wasiglass actually worked together previously, as father and daughter on Degrassi.

Mary Goes Round is an example of a female forward filmmaking at its best, something near to McGlynn’s philosophy. “I’m really interested in narratives about women who are not behaving the way they’re ‘supposed’ to,” she says. The entire film was made on a Telefilm ‘micro-budget’ of $125,000 cash, and other incentives up to a maximum of $250,000.

While McGlynn started working on this first feature of hers a few years back, she’s also been busy doing quite a bit of television work and short films at the same time. Her first short film, I Am Not a Weird Person, screened at festivals across North America, and was hailed by Lena Dunham (Girls) as a “special haunting little short”. Her second short film, Shoes, was featured as a notable project of the week on Indiegogo, and was nominated for best short film at the Female Eye Film Festival. Her last short film, 3-Way (Not Calling), premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016. She’s also recently directed ten webisodes of How To Buy a Baby, a digital comedy series for the CBC, an episode Workin’ Moms, and two episodes of Little Dog, a new CBC comedy that recently premiered.

She’s already plotting out her next feature film, stating “it will be based around living in New Jersey during 911”, which she’s aiming for release within the next two years. As well, she’s been secured to direct two more episodes of a television series, that she wasn’t at liberty to divulge. She’s also been picked up to be represented by Three Arts Entertainment in Los Angeles. She’s definitely one on the rise, so make your way to the cinema to catch her first flick, so you can gain bragging rights to say, “I was there when!”

The film opens in Canada on Friday, March 30th at the Cineplex Yonge and Dundas in Toronto

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.