Bloody Marie is a Dutch film about an alcoholic struggling comic artist riding the long drawn out and fading high of her most significant career success that occurred six years prior to the setting. Her name is Marie Wankelmut (Susanne Wolff), and she, for almost the entire first half of the film, chases alcohol spending every last cent of her earnings along the way.
She even trades her shoes for what appears to be a half-empty bottle of wine. She lives in the middle of Amsterdam’s red-light district right next to a brothel which she drunkenly wanders past to get home each night.
Despite it only taking up the second half of the runtime, the main story is that of a criminal act Marie commits whilst on a drunken tirade and the drastic consequences that ripple from it. She does something completely unjustified and illogical, and her primary justification is that she was ‘drunk as a skunk’. This sums up Marie as a character. She is the direct cause of all her own distress, she is foolish, consistently deplorable and aloof, yet we are supposed to cheer when as she stumbles her way through avoiding the consequences of her actions. Now, this isn’t to say the individuals dishing out those consequences aren’t bad; they most certainly are.
Dragomir (Dragos Bucur) is the films primary antagonist; he evolves into a wretched character, but everything he does is as a direct reaction to what Marie did to him. This leaves us with an extremely detestable villain but no hero worth rooting for, since the reality is, it’s all her fault. No matter how hard I tried I could not bring myself to care about Marie, I wanted her to escape her situation, but only because the cruel pimp would otherwise win, not because I cared at all about Marie.
As a result, the film is void of emotion; there is no one to root for and almost no reason to watch. The script, written by the two directors of the project Lennert Hillege and Guido van Driel, is at fault for all of the issues here, more needed to be done to flesh out the characters, Marie in particular. There is no insight to be found here, no entertainment either, just unlikeable characters being unlikeable until the climax comes around and they can leave our screen.
I specify the lack of insight to note the fact that Bloody Marie is, above all else, a character study. However, Marie is not a character worth studying. Her main trait is that she’s a drunk, the film attempts to build her as some kind of tortured artist drowning in a city where anything goes, but in reality, Marie is just a drunk getting herself into trouble like she seemingly has for six years straight.
I say this as harshly as I do because that is all the insight the film grants into her persona, in the few dream/flashback sequences she remains an alcoholic. The only semblance of a life she led without her vice is the existence of her graphic novel “Porn For The Blind” and the fans whom we see congratulate her for making it.
The performances are all respectable Wolff does her best to bring a whimsicality to Marie that, had the character been at all endearing, would have come off as brilliant. And to Burcur’s credit, the one or two moments of genuine tension in Bloody Marie come from him and his sinister look. The production design enhances their efforts to no end; it is the only genuinely good aspect of the experience.
Everything is greasy and reeks of dodgy interactions and underbelly crime that floods the red-light district of this film but is rarely explicitly seen. Floris Vos did a spectacular job creating this feeling if anything comes across in this film it’s to stay away from Amsterdam’s red-light district.
Bloody Marie falls short on almost every front. Marie herself is an unlikeable mess of a character who only amounts to be the centrepiece of a film that was never fully realised as the thrill-ride it was supposed to be.
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