FILM REVIEW: Mercy’s Girl

Brian Butler January 10, 2021

Emily Lape has written, directed and starred in a low-budget , realistic and deeply moving story of young love between two women that is a joy to watch.

Set in Chicago, its  slow pace, and close up and personal style gives it a feel of documentary or at the very least improvised natural dialogue. Cinematographer Justin Howe provides long sweeping shots coupled with the most intimate of close-ups and his feel for the look of each scene is perfect.

Emily plays  Mercy – an aimless, recovering alcoholic who isn’t recovering that much and whose chance meeting with a coffee shop assistant leads to a burgeoning romance that is both wonderfully observed in its minutiae and tenderly expressed .

Alison Hixon plays nursing student Jesse , who’s relaxed, energetic and out. Mercy on the contrary is closeted, self-destructive and saddled with a right-wing religious and phobic family.

It’s this tension that Emily explores and when Mercy makes a tragic drunken uncharacteristic mistake with a man in a restroom, her world implodes. The scene, which is effectively a  brutal and violent rape, follows a major horrific breakdown between Mercy and her  mother , who pulls no punches in her condemnation of her daughter’s lesbianism – leading as  she sees it to damnation.

Shocking as these two scenes are , they’re followed by an unexpected reaction from the lovely Jesse. She’s clearly been bottling up anxiety about Mercy’s drinking and there’s no consideration  by the trainee nurse about Mercy’s horrendous experience – she describes her partner as “ toxic “ and there are devastating results.

It’s a complex analysis of a young life that is disintegrating, apparently saved by love but not so. The one thing Mercy doesn’t get is mercy – not from her mother and not from her loving girlfriend.

Emily says she’s done with acting and wants to direct more – this debut is a brilliant start to what may well turn out to be  a fabulous career.

Mercy’s Girl is available on vimeo on demand