CAPTURING MARY is a haunting and quite unforgettable film. Maggi Smith, as always, is a wonder as an old woman looking back at her life with confusion and regret. There has been much talk about a supernatural angle to the film. I personally don't buy into that. I think the film is about the mores and class system of the still Victorian upper crust in England in the 1950's and how if affected one young woman who challenged it a bit too soon. We are told that Mary has made a small name for herself by writing an article in which she proposes that there be more graphic sex in films. Now remember, this is the mid fifties. At a house party frequented only, we are told, by the rich and famous, Mary finds herself being pursued by an enigmatic somewhat older man who seems to know everyone and to know everyone's secrets as well. In a dank wine cellar he tells Mary the disgusting secrets he knows, mainly dealing with the upper class's disdain for "the lower classes", especially in ethnic and racial terms. Mary is appalled by this, yet strangely fascinated at the same time. She sees that in the mansion housing the party all is proper, yet there is no mistaking a room full of leering men taking in a trio of scantily clad singers. On many different levels, Mary is confused and lost between two worlds. Though she knows it would be to her benefit to join this upper class world (and after all, didn't she lose her working class accent for just this purpose?) when asked she demurs, seeing the ugliness in it, thus wrecking the rest of her life. She is blacklisted by the old guard newspaper moguls for whom she works, and, as the decade changes to the 60's , she finds, though she wears the correct clothes and styles herself to look the part, that she cannot adapt to the new age either. She says of herself, as an older woman looking back, if I had been ten years older or ten years younger, but no, she is too early for the liberation of the sixties and too progressive to deal with the way women were treated in the fifties. She sees her mystery man again, and he has not aged a bit, though it seems, he has lost some of his power. Though it may not be as strong as it was, there will always be a class system. In the end it is both fascinating and ironic that the one person who can help Mary, even a small bit, is a young caretaker of a different ethnic group, who says at the end, "I really liked that lady." CAPTURING MARY is about being out of time and place and being caught between two disparate worlds. An excellent, thought provoking film.
A young man ushers an older woman into a dark exploration of her past - back to the time when, as a young girl, she met a stranger who affected her life forever.
May 28, 2020