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The Last Thing Mary Saw (2021)
Directed by: Edoardo Vitaletti
Written by: Edoardo Vitaletti
Starring: Carolyn McCormick, Daniel Pearce, Dawn McGee, Isabelle Fuhrman, Judith Roberts, Michael Laurence, P.J. Sosko, Rory Culkin, Shane Coffey, Stefanie Scott, Stephen Lee Anderson, Tommy Buck

THE LAST THING MARY SAW (2021)
Written and Directed by Edoardo Vitaletti

The year is 1843. A blind, young woman named Mary is arrested and suspected to have been involved in the death of the matriarch of the family. Interrogated by the police, Mary relays her version of events that led to her arrest, involving a tale of forbidden love between two young women, frowned upon by her strictly Christian family.

Period horror drama THE LAST THING MARY SAW is the debut feature film from writer and director Edoardo Vitaletti. In the movie, the story takes an unusual approach by starting with the end of the timeline of events, before taking us back in time to see how lead character Mary got to where she currently is, blindfolded and bloodied, accused of being in cahoots with the devil. Questions swirl around the viewer’s mind as we ponder, what is it that Mary last saw?

Being set in the nineteenth century, a lot of the movie’s interior scenes are dark, relying on low light provided by candles, lamps and, on occasion, a roaring fireplace. The darkness means its sometimes hard to get a full picture of the scene but the cast do a good job of conveying the purpose of what it is about. However, the darkness only accentuates the painfully slow-pace of the movie that often feels disjointed thanks to dialogue or elements of the story that feel cut short between scenes. Fortunately, this doesn’t affect the story too much in the film, which is a very simple one at its heart. Mary, a young woman and a child of the home, is punished along with housemaid Eleanor due to their longing for one another. The grandmother of the family, the matriarch, summons Mary’s uncle Eustace to the home who decides they should be ‘corrected’ in order to nip their feelings in the bud by making them suffer through some mildly torturous methods, but it doesn’t work. Their bond is too strong. Of course, with this being 1843, lesbianism isn’t exactly welcomed, especially in a strict Christian household, and so the two young women must find a way to continue their love affair. Running away isn’t much of an option as the household’s groundsman once discovered. Can Mary and Eleanor’s love for one another be enough to give them the strength to fight against the family who punish them so dearly?

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Stefanie Scott and Isabelle Fuhrman in THE LAST THING MARY SAW

What appears to be a straightforward drama injects elements of horror in ways that feel a bit like an afterthought rather than of integral importance. There’s also the introduction of a book that is said to hold stories that contradict or go against teachings in the bible, that perhaps open the gateway to wicked, impure thoughts. These aspects, along with the arrival of a character played by Rory Culkin, all feel a little shoehorned into the movie and, whilst they have their place, the film could have easily resulted in much of the same without their inclusion.

Stefanie Scott and Isabelle Fuhrman’s performances of Mary and Eleanor are subtly done, with an endearing approach that pulls you into their story. Apart from Mary’s younger brother Matthew and the groundsman/guard Theodore, the rest of the family are quite despicable creatures, particularly the cruel matriarch, and you’re rooting for Mary and Eleanor to succeed from the very beginning. Though something is definitely off about the family, and with eyes seemingly everywhere, their snatched moments together seem impossible to remain a secret for long…

With its collection of restrained performances, apart from Rory Culkin who’s character gets a lot more to work with, and coupled with the plodding plot, THE LAST THING MARY SAW outstays its welcome, with its 90 minutes running time feeling far too long for the material it’s working with. I understand the enduring struggle of Mary and Eleanor’s relationship is needed to be represented but there’s genuinely very little development of other characters outside of the lovers’ plot.

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Whilst it has some positive points, be prepared for a slow burn with THE LAST THING MARY SAW.

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