“Mary Goes Round,” a new film starring “You’re the Worst’s” Aya Cash, has a clever tagline that pretty much sums up the story, “Blood is thicker than vodka.” The story of emotional resolution is part “Days of Wine and Roses,” part “Jersey Girl.”
Cash is the title character, a young woman and barely functioning alcoholic. A rough upbringing saw her left to her own devices after the death of her mother. She barely got to know her father (John Ralston) or teenaged half-sister Robyn (Sara Waisglass). In an only-in-the-movies twist she’s also a substance abuse counsellor who loses everything after a drunk driving charge. Put on extended leave by her job she returns to her hometown, Niagara Falls where she discovers her father is dying of cancer. With the help of an AA sponsor (Melanie Nicholls-King) and a gradual blossoming of self-awareness Mary battles her inner demons.
“Mary Goes Round” doesn’t break new ground. Sobriety dramas usually involved both spectrums of human behaviour, from the lowest points in the character’s lives to some sort of reckoning and this movie is no different. What it does well is build characters we want to root for. With some dark humour and several genuinely poignant moments director Molly McGlynn—who loosely based the story on her own life—gives Cash, Waisglass, Ralston and Nicholls-King the space to create characters all dealing with some level of shame and addiction but mostly, humanity.
The film’s expected uptick at the end feels earned, coming with the message that looking beyond one’s own borders might reveal the path to happiness. It’s a sentimental end to a story that begins with a harder edge but through strong direction and nice character work, it satisfies nonetheless.