Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Antonio Cupo, Tristan Risk
Directed by: Jen & Sylvia Soska
Running Time: 103 minutes
Around the time I was suggested to watch Excision, this movie was included. It had an interesting story and the trailer was intriguing. I found a used copy of it at Blockbuster and blindly bought it, hoping for the best.
Mary Mason is a passionate medical student and her dream is to become a surgeon. Her professor, Dr. Grant, is a constant aggressive push for her and the doctor who trained her and her peers in the hospital, Dr. Walsh, taught her to be blunt and almost cold in tough situations, specifically talking to patients' families. As a medical student, Mary struggles financially and goes in for an interview at a strip club. One evening, Mary goes to party with professors and whatnot in the medical department. After talking to Dr. Grant and Dr. Walsh, something occurs and she decides to quit medical school to pursue a new direction with her surgical skills.
Before I had a chance to watch this movie, I let a friend borrow the DVD and he assured me that I would love it. And did I? Well, I'll tell you know in just a second. Like I said, I was suggested this movie along with Excision and I found it interesting that it had some similarities between them before even seeing the film. Both main characters are female and aspiring surgeons. They both are very passionate about their dreams, even if it's for different reasons, and this passion fuels some pretty interesting visuals and story progression.
Now to get to my thoughts on the movie. I thought the story was really interesting and goes beyond the basic revenge driven plot. I don't know many movies with female protagonists that have a motivation that does not involve some sort of romantic relationship or one that involved body modifications in a respectable and tasteful manner. I really enjoyed the characters, even the supporting cast for the most part. Mary Mason was an interesting character that was easy to relate to or just simply attach yourself to, but I think her personality causes you not to attach yourself too much. You feel her pain and the struggle she goes through in the movie, but you're detached enough to feel a little against some decisions she makes. Even though there's not a huge in depth story on Dr. Grant and Dr. Walsh, the movie offers you enough to form your opinion of them. Aside from Mary, I think it's important to mention the supporting characters, Beatress Johnson and Ruby Realgirl. They may be a little off putting at first, especially if you're not used to that degree of body modification, but they offer another layer to Mary's character and even the story. Lastly, I want to touch on Billy Barker and Rat. Even though these characters are flawed on a moralistic standpoint, you can't help but see the good they contribute in Mary's reinvention of herself. Visually, I like the decisions they made on how they shot the torture and surgery scenes. I strangely have this aversion toward surgery scenes, mostly real ones, but American Mary puts the action off screen and allows the audience to feel in the gaps with some added audio. Honestly, I think that's more effective than on screen gore.
As for the negatives, I felt that the story was rushed in places. One example is Mary's character. Even though she has this blunt, cold side to her that she developed from Dr. Walsh, she's naturally a nice, warm person with a lot of passion built up inside her. She tries to be helpful and supportive to her new set of clientele, but the jump in personality after the party with Dr. Grant felt a little unnatural. I think if there was an established time displayed to the audience, it might make sense, otherwise her attitude change was very sped up. Not only does it seem like Mary's character development was sped up, but it also seemed like there were scenes missing from the movie. One example is when Mary is on the phone and she has a worried expression on her face during the conversation. Logically, you would think she would bring it up with Billy, but she talks about Dr. Grant instead, leaving the audience lost on the point of the previous scene.
Despite the negatives, and I'm sure these negatives could be seen as big problems, I still managed to enjoy the movie. The characters were unique and interesting. I felt something for each and every one of them, no matter how small their part was. I thought the torture and surgery scenes were executed well. The audio and the situation made it uncomfortable while fueling your imagination on what could be going on off screen. I also thought the scene with Mary and Dr. Grant at the party was even filmed well. No glorification of the act and showed Dr. Grant as a bad person. Even though it felt like scenes were missing, I still liked the uniqueness of the story. I would recommend this movie if you don't have an aversion toward body modification, surgical procedures, and rape.
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