The outsider. A popular theme in film production. Smaller films seem to cling to this theme. Bad films tend to portray their "outsider" protagonists in one of two ways, sometimes with overlap: someone obsessed with death or the darker aspects of life and acts like someone who didn't understand Neil Gaiman's Sandman line or someone who bitches about how society doesn't understand or appreciate them (P.S, there's a reason for that: you're an ass.)
Here we have another type of outsider: the withdrawn, quiet girl who has never had much social interaction.
Angela Bettis plays the titular character and seems to have a knack for quirky characters (see the Masters Of Horror first season episode Sick Girl for another notable example. Coincidentally, that episode was directed by Lucky McKee, the director for this film).
Having grown up an outcast due to her lazy eye (later corrected by glasses then by contact lenses) May's only friend was a doll in a case called Suzy. May talks to Suzy as if she was flesh and blood, presumably not just because of her lack of relationships outside her family but because of poor relations IN the family.
The bulk of the movie deals with her trying to maintain a relationship with a man she's obsessed with (Adam, played by Jeremy Sisto) and developing a life outside her work at a veterinary hospital. One such attempt is working at a school for children of disabilities and finding a connection with a little blind girl named Petey.
What I like most about this film is how restrained it is. There's little to no dramatic music, so the shocking moments come without lead-up (I've made similar comments in an earlier review), Angelia's performance is not overly dramatic and it becomes believably darker as the story progresses.
One such moment of darkness is one of the most disturbing things I have ever witnessed and is one of the few times I've ever cringed. Hell, on some repeat viewings, I even look away! That is no mean feat. Skip ahead if you wish to avoid
One afternoon with the blind children, May brings in Suzy and tells them she is her best friend. The children want to touch the doll but May declines, insisting Suzy is fragile (more than likely she doesn't want anyone to take her friend away, regardless of how long they actually hold her. The doll falls and the glass case she is kept in shatters. The kids crawl over to try and find her and... well, put two and two together. Or better yet, don't. It really is that unsettling.
One other point I would like to make is that I believe this to be Anna Faris' best role to date. Sure, it's not totally away from her stereotyped ditz role (I get depressed at the thought of that. I really hope she doesn't start bitching at how she's typecast. If she doesn't want to be known as a ditz, The House Bunny will forever be a smear on her resume. Hopefully that "film" will give her an epiphany. Or be erased from the time/space continuum, either one is fine with me) but at least it's darker. She plays the role of Polly, May's co-worker who is trying to seduce her. Polly has unconventional sexual leanings (though in this day and age, anyone interested in just plain sex is seen as unconventional. Sad state indeed) and if you're used to seeing her as goofballs like Cindy in the Scary Movie series, this might just shock you. Her performance showed signs of a craving to be dark and to try and break out but whether or not she's suppressed those urges or just hasn't been given the right vehicle is something we'll have to wait and find out.
While I will not reveal the details of the ending, I do wish to talk about one aspect of it. This might be the only fault I have with May. Throughout the film, there has been no implication of supernatural/otherworldly behaviour. May does believe Suzy is talking to her but it's implied that it's from years of loneliness that she is slightly unbalanced. I mean, sure, it's possible that Suzy might actually be telepathically communicating with May but that still wouldn't explain the final shot of the movie. As bittersweet as it is, and bare in mind I don't outright condemn it, I'm not exactly sure how the movie came to the conclusion of the decision it made. Yes, I know that movies don't have to explain everything and that fans are encouraged to make up their own minds but that's often a bad idea. My problem is the implication of the supernatural. So, are Frankenstein-esque creations automatically given life in the world of May? Is it a mindscrew? I don't know what to think.
Whatever it may be, it doesn't really detract from a wonderful story about a lonely, lost little girl and her efforts to connect.