May Dove Canady’s upbringing is eerily very similar to Michael Myers. While there isn’t a hint of abuse or neglect in the opening shots that chronicle life as a child in her family house hold, we get the sense that the somewhat grating goal for perfection is the key to May’s abundant madness and psychosis. When we meet May, she’s a fairly normal and meek child who has been inflicted with a lazy eye that gives her poor sight. Though it’s a small imperfection that can be adjusted over time, her mother spends a majority of the time focusing on the imperfection to notice May is a very beautiful young girl. Though she doesn’t entirely experience unusual cruelty for her small affliction, the abundant idealizing of her mother, as well as the fawning over a china doll that is clearly the manifestation of what her mother originally pictures would be May, causes her to grow in to an isolated and mal adjusted young woman.
Obsessed with death and her China doll, May is a woman who has grown up against her mother’s values. She instead obsesses over everyone in her life’s minor perfections, unaware that deep down they’re imperfect and flawed human beings. Setting herself up for a crushing blow from the very beginning, May is a girl who can not take her eyes off of her friends and acquaintance’s superficial qualities to actually realize that they’re not people she really should be wasting her time with. Most of “May” is spent on the title character’s relationship with a young mechanic named Adam, who forms a fascination with May after running in to her a few times in calculated encounters by her, and soon grows a bond with her.
As he soon discovers May is a young girl who is simply hell bent on never quite taking anything slowly, and Adam gets more than he bargained for with her. What many audiences will assume is a sociopathy and sadistic tick by May is actually a hint of May doing whatever it takes to achieve perfection in her partners’ eyes, unwilling to use her own advantages in her personal relationships. When she notices Adam has a taste for rough sex and grue, she obliges much to his disbelief, and when she notices her co-worker Polly (Anna Faris in a memorable supporting performance) is a promiscuous lesbian obsessed with sex, May does whatever she can to obtain a perfection for her. Angela Bettis gives a remarkable performance as the beautiful but utterly flawed young girl dealing with her perceptions of perfection while trying to fit in to a world she simply has no place in.
From minute one, May is a ticking time bomb, and director Lucky McKee’s exploration of her inevitable massive explosion is shocking. The final twenty minutes are absolutely mind-blowing as May seeks to create her very own perfect being that she could hopefully accept in to her life. When Lucky McKee finally unravels the last layer of May’s lingering sanity for the audience, he doesn’t so much deliver a bang as he does a whisper that travels down the spine of his audience. May’s journey to find her perfect mate is quiet and absolutely uneasy and the truly key moments in May’s own mission to complete her inner desire are played with nary an exploitative tone.
The most disturbing moment in the film involving a throat slitting is so silent and absolutely fleeting that it’s both awe inspiring and gruesome. May often seems like someone who is absolutely psychotic and void of any conscience, but McKee paints her as a tragic character who would do anything to obtain perfection in the eyes of others, no matter what. “May” is a wonderful and powerful statement on the struggle for perfection and acceptance, and what lengths many of us will go through for it. Even the mentally unstable ones. A marvelous cinematic debut from director Lucky McKee, “May” is a tragic and gut wrenching look at a girl who would do anything to become the ideal person for the people in her life, and eventually unwound from the aftermath of imperfection and idealistic visions of our loved ones.