Mary is Happy Mary is Happy – Review by Eveleen Coyle
Director: Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit
Screenplay: Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit
Cast: Patcha Poonpiriya, Chonnikan Netjui
Based on 410 unedited tweets by a real teenager @marhlony, it follows the interaction between real life and tweet life. It is the story of two close friends, Mary and Suri, teenagers in their last year in school facing big life decisions and sending applications to various third level colleges. There is fantasy, and reality, tragedy, sorrow and fun. So much of that age. It is piecemeal in the telling with a tweet frame preceding each event. The hand held camera means it is jumpy but also more realistic.
The film builds slowly although the close and intense the relationship between the two girls, Mary played by Patcha Poonpiriva and Suri played by Chonnikan Netjjui is established early on. They are charged with assembling the Year Book for their final year in school.
It is shot in the most extraordinarily ugly and bleak surroundings of their school, and the school matches it – lots of cast concrete, minimalist and severe.The staff aren’t much better.
Mary is the dizzier of the two, unfocussed, full of enthusiasm, full of fun, of imagination, despair and indecisiveness. Suri’s grounded, steady but ultimately sad character is the perfect foil to Mary. And Suri loves her. Mary has endless dramatic and often hilarious rediculous accidents ending up in A&E with her good friend minding her. There is a curious absence of parents.
Mary falls in love with a strange boy called M whom she meets at the food vendor’s stand by the seemingly defunct railway track – many significant events happen along this railroad, a symbol of leaving. ‘Right or left?’ Mary asks M as they follow the railway to where it divides. ‘You decide’. ‘Right’ she says, ‘I will go right’. M of course goes left. Her heart is broken.
Mary is Happy Mary is Happy captures the underlying stresses that are frequently an unacknowledged and huge part of teenage lives. It is when a terrible tragedy hits that we really see, through Mary’s brief texts, how lost they feel, how inarticulate and bewildered they are and cold disinterest of the adults around to see or help them deal with their grief.
It is both comedy and drama, very witty but observant too of the struggles, the joys and the terrors of teenage lives. There is certain merit in being true to the texts but it is very, very long (127 minutes), be warned.
Director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit is a self-taught director of short films. His first feature film 36 was selected for the Tiger Awards Competition in 2013. Mary is Happy Mary is Happy is second feature film.