Two sisters, Lucy and Martha, regularly protest capital punishment at state executions. Lucy (Ellen Page) meets Mercy (Kate Mara) attending that day’s execution in support of lethal injection. Despite their moral differences, they feel an obvious connection to one another.
Ellen Page, playing 10 years younger, is twentysomething anti-execution activist Lucy Morrow, whose father is due for lethal injection for the alleged murder of her mother. She falls in love across the battle lines with Kate Mara’s lawyer, one of the pro-capital punishment protesters she regularly sees at demonstrations around the country.
Mara has a wry authority over an admirably chippy Page, who has been press-ganged by her sister (Amy Seimetz) into career activism: “How was your proboning?” she needles her sibling’s lawyer lover. The film’s early, quasi-romcom tone means the film must straddle a tonal divide, too, as Lucy’s father’s execution date approaches. Structured around several protests before the final showdown, it emerges as a slightly ungainly hybrid: Four Killings and a Funeral, almost.
My Days of Mercy quietly builds in power, in its back half, this tendency means the film falls short visually for what is, on paper, a courageous choice of climactic scene. It doesn’t find a way to fully convey the profound impact of watching the act of institutionalised murder. Coupled with the weakness for spats between Page and Mara to force the final act to a head, this ambitious film isn’t quite a full-bore success.
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