May (2002)

May at the eye doctor.

May at the eye doctor.

If you’re like me, you probably talk to horror movies when you watch them. Typically it’s along the lines of “Don’t go in there!” or “Don’t open that box, it’s from Hell!” With Lucky McKee’s May, it’s slightly different. I found myself covering my eyes and shouting “No, he doesn’t want you to call him again!” and “It’s not normal to tell your crush about the time that dog’s guts burst open onto the concrete while chuckling with amusement!” May is the ultimate experience in Fremdscham.

As a child, young May (Angela Bettis) had a lazy eye. The only solution to the problem was for the little girl to wear a black eye patch. May wasn’t all that concerned about it, but her picture-perfect mother sure was, and soon May understood why: it doesn’t take much for shitty little kids to shun you. Sadly,

May and Adam's hands.

May and Adam’s hands.

May only grew up with one friend, Suzy. And, sadder still, Suzy is not a person, but a doll in a glass box.

As one might expect, the adult version of May doesn’t really pick up on social cues. At all. She’s never had a boyfriend. Shit, she’s never had a living friend at all. Most of her social interaction comes from the vet’s office where she works, sewing up dogs and cats. In her spare time, she sews her own kooky clothes. She doesn’t know what a real friendship is like; in fact, she totally lacks any understanding of how human relationships work. She only sees people for their beautiful parts: Adam (Jeremy Sisto), a man she sees around town, has perfect hands. Her co-worker Polly (Anna Faris) has a gorgeous neck. The problem with the world, as May sees it, is there are no perfect wholes, just pretty parts.

May's relationship with Suzy is on the rocks...

May’s relationship with Suzy is on the rocks…

After skulking around town spying on Adam for a while, May decides it is time to make a move – a terribly awkward move that exposes May’s weirdness. Lucky for May, Adam really, really likes weird (while I find this thread of the movie very interesting indeed, I can’t do it as much justice as the A.V. Club, so just read their article on May here). After a bumbling kiss and a bite of love, Adam realizes that May is actually too fucking weird and ducks out on their relationship. Seeing as how May is new to dating, she doesn’t get it, and decides to continue her pursuit. The eventual humiliation she suffers at Adam’s hands finally pushes her over the edge, and May takes up the needle to create the monster we’ve been waiting for her to sew up since the movie

Breaking up is hard to do.

Breaking up is hard to do.


May is a movie about how truly sad loneliness can be. She is so lonely it hurts to watch; I found myself wanting to shake her and enroll her in Human Interaction 101. Having been raised in a home obsessed with perfection, May, of course, is utterly disappointed with real people. When no one reciprocates her genuine interest and excitement, she is utterly at a loss. The poor girl means well, but she has no way to really communicate that. The shallow people around her are only interested in their perceptions of May, and not actually in what makes her tick. But, I suppose May is also more interested in how she expects people to be than how they actually are. Perhaps that just proves how hard it really is for anyone to find any real connection in this world. Some of us are just normal enough to get by.


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