Movie Ramblings: American Mary


Mary (Katharine Iasbelle) is an impoverished surgical student who decides to pay off her debts by working in a strip club. At the “interview” it is evident that she would be a terrible stripper but, as luck would have it, the strip joint just happens to have a surgical emergency in the basement.

Following this incident, “Dr Mary” becomes in demand among people wanting “unconventional” surgeries and willing to pay her to do them no questions asked. Spurred on by the offers of huge amounts of cash and pushed away from mainstream medicine by her unsupportive instructors, Mary agrees to do one illicit plastic surgery operation. Initially Mary is horrified by what she has done and refuses to do it again. However, after a horrific experience of her own, she drops out of med school and enlists the help of her new acquaintances to get revenge.


Along the way she is introduced to the underground world of extreme body modification and she starts to really enjoy her work. She starts to find the respect, support and appreciation that was so lacking in the mainstream medical world. Of course her previous life and actions come back to haunt her and her new career is short-lived.

Obviously, given the subject matter, there is violence and some bloody and graphic images. However there is not as much gratuitous gore as I was expecting and for the most part the film is stylish and sexy rather than brutal and graphic. I would have liked to see a bit more about how Mary sets herself up as a body modification surgeon and begins to prosper before things start going wrong.


I do have a slight issue in that this film doesn’t really try to avoid a cliche view of people who are into body modification. Only one of Mary’s clients seems in any way a well adjusted person. The rest are caricatures apparently designed purely to shock or titillate the audience. Almost exclusively the male characters are portrayed as either sadists or complete losers.

It is difficult to see really why Mary so easily throws away all of her moral reservations and moves into the shady world of illicit surgery. She’s presumably breaking the law and will never be able to work in mainstream medicine again. It is established that she needs money but, despite making some jokes about it, she doesn’t seem to be lacking food or a place to live. She lives alone in quite a large looking place, wears fancy clothes and impractical shoes and spends a lot of time drinking wine. Really the only bad thing that happens to her as a result of being broke is that she has her phone cut off for about a day. It really is amazing what people will do these days to make sure they can talk to people on the phone!


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