Aya Cash is superb, but can’t rescue this drama from floundering

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Mary Goes Round

Opens May 4
2 out of 5

Much like in hockey, a stellar performance can elevate a team from mediocrity to success. I wouldn’t go as far as calling Canadian film Mary Goes Round a triumph, but a strong turn by Aya Cash gives this formulaic flick enough flavour to make it watchable.

You probably have no idea who Aya Cash is. The star of FXX’s cult hit You’re the Worst, Cash’s subdued approach to acting makes her both effective and relatable — and in this film, an ideal choice for the role of a woman whose existence is going up in smoke due to alcoholism.

Nothing is going right for Mary. Her relationship is hanging from a thread, and everyone around her seems to be moving forward while she’s stuck in an unfulfilling job (an addiction counselor to boot). Without any other source of satisfaction in her life, Mary drinks constantly to put up with the perceived humiliations that populate her day.

Just as her regular life implodes, Mary’s estranged dad Walt (John Ralston), reaches out. The reunion is far from casual: Walt is dying of cancer and wants Mary to bond with her younger half-sister. Not exactly the kind of environment that leads to sobriety.

The plot is Hallmark-quality (rapidly declining parent, family rapprochement, fall and redemption). But thanks to Cash’s magnetic performance, the film’s shortcomings become less noticeable. Ralston and Degrassi: Next Class mainstay Sara Waisglass do their best, but are poorly served by the story, including a spectacularly misguided twist towards the end.

The quality of the acting in an otherwise unremarkable script indicates writer/director Molly McGlynn has a future behind the camera, but maybe should try someone else’s material.