- Reviewed from the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.
Karen Cirrone’s gorgeous if ultimately myopic feminist fantasy drama Mayday never fully realizes its interesting premise nor its ideological ambitions.
A modern update on tales of mythical sirens, equal parts Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan, the film follows Anastasia (Grace van Patten), who, following a suicide attempt, ends up on a sparsely populated, otherworldly island. There she meets a trio of mysterious girls, among them the charismatic Marsha (Mia Goth). It turns out they use military mayday calls to lure men to their doom, and so begins Anastasia’s (rather reductive) lesson in empowerment.
It’s not so problematic that Cirrone neglects to world-build or really establish the parameters of the supernatural environment where her characters reside. That could be tolerable, were the script (the dialogue in particular) not so unsubtle.
What’s more, the film undermines poignant themes of gendered trauma and healing through community with its rather monolithic representation of womanhood – all of them pale, slender and waifish – so that often their “power” itself seems rooted in conventional gender roles.
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