Theatrical release poster by Steven Chorney
|Directed by||María Luisa Bemberg|
|Produced by||Lita Stantic|
|Screenplay by||María Luisa Bemberg
Beda Docampo Feijóo
Juan Bautista Stagnaro
|Music by||Luis María Serra|
|Edited by||Luis César D'Angiolillo|
|Running time||100 min|
Miss Mary is a 1986 drama film directed by María Luisa Bemberg and starring Julie Christie, Nacha Guevara and Eduardo Pavlovsky. It was an Argentine-American co-production shot on location in Argentina.
In 1938, Englishwoman Mary Mulligan (Julie Christie) arrives at the lavish estate of a wealthy Argentine family living outside of Buenos Aires. "Miss Mary" (as she is referred to by the children) serves as the family's governess over the course of the next several years. As the primary caretaker of the family's 3 children, Mary teaches them English and oversees their childhood and adolescent development, playing both the roles of nurturer, as the "mother" they never really had, and disciplinarian, when they stray from the social expectations of proper upper-class children. As they move into their teenage years, the children progressively mature, exploring sexuality and the physical changes associated with puberty.
Meanwhile, the aristocratic world around them is falling apart. The adults converse about politics, hinting at the impending arrival of Juan Perón on the political scene, which will signal an abrupt end to their lifestyle. Compounding the problem is the state of the family itself: the patriarch, Alfredo (Eduardo Pavlovsky), becomes physically intimate with another woman. Enraged, his wife, Mecha, (Nacha Guevara) shoots a pistol blindly into the parlor where the affair is unfolding, and although the bullets cause no injury, the children are greatly disturbed. Mecha slowly deteriorates mentally and emotionally and grows stoically detached in the presence of her family.
A few years down the road, Teresa, the eldest daughter in the family, proudly announces the loss of her virginity to her younger sister, Carolina. Johnny, their older brother, has a sexual encounter with a woman more than twice his age. Confused by the experience, he rushes home despite a thunderstorm and confronts Mary in her bedroom. After a brief moment of awkwardness, they embrace and spend the night together, capping off a long, vaguely-defined relationship that has displayed both maternal and romantic tendencies. As Johnny sneaks back half-nakedly to his room in the early morning, his mother happens to see him stumble down the hallway. Immediately aware that Miss Mary has gone too far, she relays the information to her indifferent husband before returning to find Mary already packing up her things. She formally dismisses Mary, just as Mary reports that she is planning to leave the family anyway.
Later, Teresa is shown preparing for her wedding, which she expresses doubts about following through with. Motivated by her support for her sister and her contempt for the shallow world in which she lives, Carolina announces her intentions to boycott the wedding. Mary is present at the wedding, and she slips Johnny a note as he walks down the aisle in a procession of the bride's family. Shortly thereafter, Mary converses with Johnny, ultimately revealing that she plans to return to England now that World War II has ended. She embarks via boat.
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