American Mary mines the alterna-universe territory of so many other Canadian films in the last few years, albeit with a more serious approach and with a slightly more successful outcome than crap like WolfCop, Evil Feed and co. That still doesn’t make it more than a novelty masquerading as a ‘darkly erotic’ film banking on violence and the promise of tits.
Mary Mason is a talented med student whose bank account and energy meter are both running on fumes as she works underpaid jobs to fund studies that she attends in an exhausted state. It is a spiral with one inevitable conclusion.
In an act of fiscal desperation Mary decides to use her ample female assets to reverse the trend. She applies for a job as a stripper in a dingy nightclub frequented by ne’er-do-wells and the cities’ underworld, and thanks to a remarkable coincidence, funds herself performing impromptu emergency surgery in her black satin lingerie…
This unlikely twist of fate introduces Mary to some key individuals who would further her medical career faster than any lecturer or on the job hospital training – although Mary diligently continues her studies, funded now by an extra-curricular job as a freelance provider of boutique elective surgeries, the type you see on some guy or girl in the mall and wonder two things; 1/ what would possess someone to ask for that and 2/ what can a parent do to avoid having their son arrive home one day with one of those.
These procedures are so off the books they are performed in Mary’s apartment behind a curtain. There is no insurance, no protection and no recourse. What they are is profitable, so profitable that Mary starts a website spruiking her service, and through word of mouth starts attracting a wildly diverse clientele, whose only unifying feature is they are willing to accept the pain of being forcibly unique.
Even though to this point American Mary deals in a strange world, it is quite the happy story, so of course Mary attends an especially debaucherous ‘surgery’ party full of the genuinely accredited and their aspirational victims… patients. Thanks to a laced cocktail the party ends early for Mary, but she awakens with a new set of goals and an outlet for some of her more outrageous surgical ideas…
American Mary is like the wilfully strange that line up to be mutilated. It seeks to gain attention through appearing extreme, but the reality is that it ends up not at all remarkable – just different. To some being different is in itself remarkable and/or shocking, and those people are generally easily pleased or influenced. Those people will like or decry this film, which is what it wants.
The rest of us who have seen it all before will recognise it as a cry for attention, and will not be nearly as impressed.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. Another cinematic cry for attention, though this one tries harder than most.