"The film stitches together a remarkably good cast, a witty and knowing script, and some great cinematography."

When May came out 20 years ago it met with mixed reviews. Low budget horror rarely gets a fair hearing, especially when it is as unusual and complex as May. But May had some word of mouth and striking cover art. It caught my eye while I was browsing in Fopp. It didn't look like any of the other horror DVDs, any of the DVDs. With the character of May (Angela Bettis) as a macabre Virgin Mary behaloed with twelve golden fabric scissors for the stars, the cover could lead you to think that the film had a lot of religious themes. Those aspects are there, May's doll Suzie being treated as a saintly relic or in the final scene when in an act of creation her word is made flesh, but the Woman Of The Apocalypse May is not.

May is an odd blend of romantic comedy and slasher film. As a child May was lonely, ostracised by the other children for her lazy eye. Her only friend was Suzie, a creepy beatified doll encased in a glass cabinet. Now she is a veterinary nurse and amateur seamstress. With newly corrected vision, she sets out in the world to find love and companionship.

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The first object of her affection is Adam (Jeremy Sisto), a mechanic and film student. May has become obsessed with the beauty of his hands. Unfortunately May's only model of human interaction is with her doll Suzie. This leaves her ill equipped to deal with any kind of meaningful relationship. There is a brief fling with her co-worker Polly (Anna Faris) which doesn't turn out the way she wants, and her attempt at voluntary work at a school for blind children goes disastrously wrong for both her and the children when Suzie is accidentally destroyed. All it takes is one more failure with a punk (James Duval) whom she meets on the street to convince May that she can't find friends. She has to make one.

The film stitches together a remarkably good cast, a witty and knowing script, and some great cinematography. There is great chemistry between both Bettis and Sisto and Bettis and Faris. All three handle the humour in the script elegantly. The film can be beautiful to look at, from the classical statuary of Sisto's Adam to the pre-Raphaelite jumble of May's apartment.

May is all about loneliness, awkwardness and the inability to fit in. It's about trying to find the things that are supposed to come with adulthood that seem to come so easily to everyone else. It's about feeling ill-equipped to navigate life.

Reviewed on: 24 Jul 2023
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May packshot
A socially awkward veterinary assistant with a lazy eye and obsession with perfection descends into depravity after developing a crush on a boy with perfect hands.

Director: Lucky McKee

Writer: Lucky McKee

Starring: Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto, Anna Faris, James Duval, Nichole Hiltz, Kevin Gage

Year: 2002

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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