Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy - #WeAreOne Film Review

★★★

Directed by #NawapolThamrongrattanarit

Written by #NawapolThamrongrattanarit

Starring #PatchaPoonpiriya, #ChonnikanNetjui, #WasupolKriangprapakit

Film Review by Amber Jackson

Based on some tweets of an anonymous girl, @marylony, Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy is a film about the life of teenage girl Mary (Patcha Poonpiriya) who is in her last year of school, growing up in Thailand. Centralised around her and her best friend Suri (Chonnikan Netjui), the story acts like a coming-of-age existentialism narrative, but at the same time, it feels like Mary is in a fantasy world. As the film progresses, Mary confronts sudden changes to her life with regards to her friendships and relationships in a confusing and complex two-hour film.

The plot itself is surreal as if it is in the mind of the Tweeter, which gives the impression that Mary is in a false reality. Mary is constantly questioning her mortality throughout the film because it appears she keeps dying, or nearly dying, which only adds to the strange reality that she finds herself in. To add to this, the witty exchanges between friends Mary and Suri is one of the better parts of the film, as their level of sass with each other is hilarious to watch. Their banter is incredibly well-written, with a strong use of irony within the dialogue. To contrast, Mary’s long pauses and awkwardness with her crush, M (Wasupol Kriangprapakit) was captured very well, but also very unexpectedly.

Story-wise, this film is long and a little hard to follow, but this is intentional in the writing. The script is very uniquely put-together and it would be interesting to understand the writer’s intention more. From a viewer’s perspective, the story makes a point not to make sense, as if to give us a better perspective on how unpredictable life is. Dialogue, combined with the multi-media of tweets, recognises the meaning of words is very important. Every day for Mary seems repetitive and awkward and the script focuses on her trying to break out of this repetitive existence.

It’s clear that Mary isn’t in control of her life at all and so she verbalises every thought and feeling, which warps the standard perception of what it’s like to be a teenage girl. This is reflected in a bizarre structure of the film. There is quick editing, almost like picture snapshots, as the jump-cuts are sandwiched in-between the tweets. The tweets appear on the screen with a mouse clicking sound effect, taking you out of the action of the story.

However, when Mary is alone on screen, the camera is intentionally shaky and the shots are lengthier and linger for the audience. This sudden contrast in filming are uncomfortable for the audience and it feels intrusive to watch, as the camera behaves as though we are inside Mary’s thoughts and worries. We are experiencing everything alongside her. The final scene lingers even longer, making it appear as though she is completely alone, or perhaps the entire film never happened at all. Being left with these questions makes for compelling viewing, as well as confusion.

What’s great about this film is that it doesn’t show the ‘classic’ Western image of Thailand and what we perceive it to be on this side of the world. Mary’s environment appears to be slow and rural, but also more human. The camera follows Mary and Suri around their school lives which feels realistic, despite the fantasy theme, and is refreshing to watch. It becomes clear throughout the film that Mary is very suppressed by the authority figures around her. She is constantly told what she should think and feel and there are definite issues regarding her freedom of speech within school. Her opinion is stifled and her mental health is effectively mocked by adults, which raises questions over the more serious side to the film.

Although this is a strange watch, Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy is a great watch for those in the UK, as it shows a different version of the coming-of-age story. Mary is a teenager who isn’t always aware what is fantasy versus what is reality and this makes for a fascinating watch.

Mary is Happy, Mary is Happy is currently on YouTube as part of the #WeAreOne film festival.

#AmberJackson #WeAreOne