Tristan Risk

commentary american mary

At first glance the directing duo of Jen and Sylvia Soska might appear to be little more than a shtick. Twins with jet black hair, wonderfully foul mouths and an affection for the bloody wet stuff, they could easily be mistaken for filmmakers more interested in style than substance. But while their feature debut, Dead Hooker In a Trunk, is a brilliant title in search of a worthwhile film, just three short years later they’ve made a dramatic leap in quality with their sophomore effort. American Mary is part revenge thriller, part black comedy and part body modification training video, and it works hard to tell an original and entertaining story. It’s an odd film destined to stand apart in a genre overrun with ghosts, found footage and masked serial killers, and the fact that it’s anchored by a fantastic female lead performance is just icing on the blood-lined cake. Keep reading to see what I learned from the commentary track for the Soska sisters’ American Mary.

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There’s something to be said for an incredibly fun movie with some not-so-small problems. The degree of that something most likely differs depending on the viewer, but enough good in a film can often overcome any amount of bad. Theoretically. Luckily for American Mary, that theory holds true as script and editing issues are partially overcome with wit, personality and gleeful audacity. It also helps that the film features two strongly addictive female performances, one lead and one supporting, that anchor the viewers’ attention and sympathies. Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is a medical student heading towards a career as a surgeon, but her biggest challenge can’t be found in the classroom. It’s in her bank account… her empty bank account. Hoping to earn some quick cash she answers an ad for a strip club, but before she can even audition she’s cajoled into applying her med skills on a man in need of help. (He could also use a new eyeball.) That incident pays far more than stripping ever could, and soon she’s lining up patients looking for surgical help and body modifications that hospitals and the legal system don’t allow. Like taking away a woman’s exterior sexuality, adding devil horns to someone’s head or splitting a guy’s penis down the middle…

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published: 04.16.2014
C-
published: 04.16.2014
B-
published: 04.14.2014
B
published: 04.14.2014
A-

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