“Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy” – 2013 Tokyo Film Review

It is a sign of the times that a concept for a film can be based off of an anonymous girl’s Twitter account: 410 consecutive status updates on the social media network, to be exact.  But what begins as an expected assortment of random events, swaying mightily from one situation to another thanks to a schizophrenic online persona, develops into “Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy,” a creatively executed black comedy-drama with several story arcs, all focusing on one teenage girl.

Mary Malony is the fictional Thai character based on the person behind the real @marylony Twitter account.  As Mary motors through each tweet, shared in full text on the screen verbatim, her life spins out of control.  When her status update, “We all have our own story,” is followed by “I want a jellyfish,” Mary suddenly finds herself ordering an unwanted pet online.  Other tweets leave her with a moldy lunchbox, several trips to the hospital and on vacation in Paris eating Thai street food in front of the Louvre.

Accompanying Mary throughout is her straight-talking best friend Suri, one of her classmates at an all-girls boarding school, who doesn’t even bat an eye when Mary’s adventures swing from the quizzical to the ridiculous.  There are, however, plot lines about to take hold.  The two friends are asked to put together the school yearbook, a project they can barely lift off the ground.  Mary also finds a love interest in M, a man of few words who she runs into every time she visits her favorite food truck.  Then there is the looming conclusion of high school, an inevitable milestone which Mary has trouble confronting as the world around her changes.

Director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit has managed to spin a seemingly disconnected stream of consciousness into a thoughtful work about the perils of adolescence.  In a world where one’s public opinion does not necessarily match his or her actual feelings, Mary ultimately must come to terms with the fact that, in some cases, trying to make sense of life when it doesn’t seem to make any sense at all is a lost cause.

“Mary Is Happy, Mary Is Happy” screens at the 2013 Tokyo International Film Festival on Oct. 21.  For tickets, go to the TIFF website.