A Bloody Mary isn’t for everyone. A well-made Mary is a spicy concoction, with the sharp taste of vodka complementing a slew of carefully-balanced ingredients. Similarly, Lennert Hillege and Guido van Driel’s thrilling feature Bloody Marie, which was shortlisted (but sadly didn’t make it) for the 2019 Academy Award, is not for everyone. Yet those who like their films as fiery and unpredictable as their cocktails will find much to love in this delectable blend of character study and edge-of-your-seat thriller. Imagine James Ponsoldt’s Smashed having drunken sex with Luc Besson’s Nikita, and you’ll have a rough idea of what to expect.
“…a down-on-her-luck comic book artist and a hopeless drunk. A fan…reappears later, a sort of symbol of salvation for Marie.”
Marie (Susanne Wolff) is a down-on-her-luck comic book artist and a hopeless drunk. She lives in the pits of Amsterdam’s seedy red-light district, haunted by the recent death of her mother. We find Marie early on in an empty club, dancing by herself, completely inebriated. A fan of hers, Oscar (Jan Bijvoet), recognizes her – he reappears later, a sort of symbol of salvation for Marie. In the meantime, she engages in philosophical debates about male toxicity, purposefully throws up on the floor of a liquor shop when the cashier refuses to sell her liquor, and tries to sell her latest “novel” – involving a woman repeatedly stumbling up and down the stairs – to her flabbergasted publisher as a “minimalist” work of art. She’s a mess.
One night, Marie exchanges her stinky red shoes for a bottle of liquor from a stranger – the hunky-but-dangerous-and-therefore-even-more-sexy pimp Dragomir (Dragos Bucur). Later, she drunkenly “parkours” over Amsterdam rooftops to his window and steals his cash… But did he spot her? Dragomir soon pays her a visit – in one of the film’s most intense sequences – under the pretense of pitching one of his girls’ drawings. He leaves his phone at her place. When Marie returns it, she becomes a witness to an act of cruelty. This leads to a finale involving a fiery crotch and perhaps one of the most inventive “disposal of a body” sequences I’ve seen in recent memory.