My Days Of Mercy **
Starring: Ellen Page, Kate Mara, Amy Seimetz
Director: Tali Shalom Ezer
Earlier this year, My Days Of Mercy arrived in a few UK cinemas, but unless you were in London or (weirdly) Knutsford, you were unlikely to have been able to see it. Now, it is available to watch at home and it’s fairly clear why it had such a limited cinema run.
Lucy (Page) is an anti-death penalty protestor who travels around the US with her siblings to picket each state penitentiary on the day of a planned execution. Her father is on death row for a crime she believes he didn’t commit. During a protest she meets Mercy (Mara), a protestor on the other side, campaigning in favour of the death penalty. Both have their reasons and neither will back down from their convictions, but they fall in love nonetheless.
This is a Romeo & Juliet story with added lethal injections. Their ideological stances place both families at odds with each other, but opposition to their relationship is both internal and external. The chemistry between Page and Mara seems real enough and the relationship is both tender and anguished, but as the two doggedly follow their principles above all else in their lives, their love for each other doesn’t really stand a chance. There’s a touching scene late in the film when Lucy’s family discuss what they could do with their lives beyond their perpetual crusade, which goes only to underline how personally damaging ceaseless protesting can be. Their entire lives have been nothing more than a campaign, so when Lucy and Mercy finally discover their own identities, these come as such a shock.
The film is slow and trudges through the grim tedium of their tour around America’s grimmest places. You do care about the couple, but you can’t help but spend the movie shaking your head about how alien the US penal system is. But the film does little to either pluck at your heart-strings or ignite your outrage.
OUT NOW ON DVD AND ON DEMAND, RELEASED BY SIGNATURE ENTERTAINMENT.