In a world where women do a disproportionate amount of emotional labour, it begs the question, “Who cares for the carers?” Women are socialized to look after other people’s problems and ignore their own. That’s why it’s such a relief to watch a movie like Mary Goes Round, an addiction film from a uniquely female–and feminist-friendly–perspective.
The debut film of director Molly McGlynn, Mary Goes Round explores the life of Mary, a Toronto-based addictions counsellor played by the fantastic Aya Casha in her most layered performance to date. While Mary devotes her work life to helping others, she secretly wrestles with alcoholism in her personal life. The irony of a woman assisting others while ignoring the challenges in her own life will feel familiar to many. Mary is nothing if not a relatable character. I imagine we have all known–or been–a Mary at some point.
The film begins with Mary shrugging off her drinking problem before cutting to a montage of a late-night bender. When Mary’s boyfriend confronts her about this pattern of substance abuse, our protagonist balks. She insists all she needs is an app to remind her not to over-imbibe. But when Mary subsequently gets wasted at a baby shower, crashes her boyfriend’s car and gets charged with a DUI all in the same day, it’s obvious she’s suffering more than she’s letting on.
Mary’s office gets wind of her DUI when an embarrassing video of her evading arrest surfaces on the Internet. Mary’s boss doesn’t fire her, but she does suggest Mary take time off so she can tackle her addiction.
Having been suspended from her job and dumped by her boyfriend, Mary has little to do in Toronto. Vulnerable and seeking distraction, she agrees to stay with her estranged father in Niagara Falls. When Mary arrives, it turns out her dad is actually dying, and he needs Mary to help him look after a half-sister she’s never even met. No matter where she goes, Mary cannot escape the fact that people need her.
Unlike many indie movies that reek of affectation, Mary Goes Round is special for its authenticity. In real life, women are disproportionately likely to work in caring professions. They are also routinely left to care for children or ailing relatives. And yet, the raw and gendered world of care work is something we rarely see on screen. McGlynn, however, is not your typical director. Her gaze does not shy away from the (literal) blood and guts of women’s emotional labour. Her candid direction makes Mary Goes Round one of the most honest films of 2018. Frankly, it’s a relief someone’s finally made this movie.
Check out Mary Goes Round at Cineplex Cinemas Yonge-Dundas and VIP until April 3, 2018. Get showtimes here.