3 August 2003 | Pasafist
Do Yourself A Favor... Rent This Movie
Have you ever tried to figure out what something is when your eyes are closed? You grab something round its cool and smooth to the touch. It feels solid so it's not some kind of Nerf ball or anything. Here you are standing in the middle of a room clutching something and you can't quite tell what it is. The object was an apple, but that's not the point.
MAY the new film by first time director Lucky McKee is just that kind of movie. At first maybe it's a romance, then again maybe it's a thriller, hmm.. Maybe it's some kind of comedy, light hearted or dark. At first glance you might just think it's a horror film. But May doesn't aspire to labels, it lives in that world beyond them and that's what works and doesn't work for a film like this.
MAY is one of those movies like Mullholland Drive, From Dusk 'Til Dawn, or Femme Fatale. There is a moment in the film that will either grab you and pull you in, or turn you off and produces nothing but loathing. For me that moment came as the blind kids are well.. I don't think I want to share that sequence with you, but for me it worked.
MAY tells the story of a young women named May (Angela Bettis, Girl Interrupted) who seems really sweet on the outside, with just a touch of crazy attached. She had an overbearing mother (Merle Kennedy, Bubble Boy) who wanted her little girl to be perfect. It's just too bad she needed to wear an eye patch to correct a lazy eye. The kids in school all laughed and called her a pirate. To comfort the girl or make her crazy the film doesn't really say, May's mother gives her a prized possession, a freaky looking doll that has to stay in pristine condition in a glass box.
Somehow May survives this weird childhood and grows up to be stable but a little nuts. She falls for a guy with perfect hands (Jeremy Sisto, Wrong Turn) and a girl she works with (Anna Faris, Scary Movie) falls for her. Everything is perfect until these people turn their back on May, and well that's when the fun begins..
Angela Bettis is excellent; she is really beautiful, really vulnerable, and really expressive without doing much. She gives May this quality that is understated and yet still intense. I like how she says more with one look than lots of silly dialogue. She very much reminded me of a female Travis Bickle. She has a longing for what she can not have and is dealing with it the only way she know how.
Like in TAXI DRIVER, there is a moment when May is on the phone with Adam (the Sisto character) and he wants nothing to do with her anymore. Anyone else would have gotten the point. But not May and so when the realization comes, just as when Travis Bickle was dumped by Betsey something inside both of them snaps.
Another bright spot is Anna Faris. Why she pigeonholed herself in those stupid comedies is beyond me. She is excellent as May's lesbian workmate. She is bright and spunky and really funny. I'd love to see her do some more legitimate acting work. Hopefully this is the kind of film that she could use to get better roles. Who knows!!!
Director McKee makes it look easy. He has crafted a fascinating look into the eyes of a crazy person, by doing what few films can. He allows us to see that part of ourselves that is manifested in May. We've all at one time or another been treated like crap, made fun of, been ridiculed, and maybe some of us have tried to go over the deep end. I felt pity for May even if I shouldn't have. This is a powerful movie, and one of the best I've seen all year.
If Hollywood ever got off its rear end and decided that a film like MAY deserved to be shown at the same multiplex as FROM JUSTIN TO KELLY maybe their would be better quality films out there that the general market could consume. Until then it will probably only be discovered by lovers of film. I guess that's not so bad.
There are probably others out there that could find fault in a film like MAY. It's that kind of cinema, either you love it or your hate it. There is not much middle ground. But do yourself a favor, go and rent this movie.