When a substance abuse counsellor gets arrested for a DUI and returns to her hometown of Niagara Falls, she learns that her estranged father is dying of cancer and wants her to form a bond with her teenaged half-sister that she’s never met, in this family drama from writer-director Molly McGlynn.
Mary has not led a charmed existence. Her family split up when she was a child and, after her mother died, she was left alone, uninterested in (and maybe incapable of ) reconnecting with her father, Walt (John Ralston), or her younger sister Robyn (Sara Waisglass). A string of heartbreaks has fuelled Mary's alcoholism, which she's now having a hard time hiding. After a particularly disastrous night, complete with a drunk-driving charge, Mary accepts her father's entreaty to visit. There, she realizes others might have even bigger problems than she does.
Molly McGlynn's finely observed Mary Goes Round begins with a surprise that's slyly funny. But the film is more artful character study than easy laughs. McGlynn's smart script provides us with an array of compelling characters, all plagued by unique demons. Walt worries how his mistakes will affect Mary and Robyn. Mary's new-found friend, Lou, is a sympathetic and engaging home-care worker who may have the most complicated past of all. On the periphery are Lou's aging charges who have a lot to teach Mary about self-pity. And there's a flummoxed, good-natured cop who turns out to be uncommonly understanding.
At the centre is Aya Cash (You're the Worst), in a textured, touching performance as Mary, a woman-child anxiously fighting pain she doesn't understand and has a tough time acknowledging. Tooling around town on a kid's bike, Mary is a complicated emblem of resilience wobbling towards the realization that caring about others might actually be the way to escape one's own trauma.