May was one of the more disturbing films we’ve watched in class. Not just because of the all the blood, dismembered bodies and her cringe-worthy attempts at flirting but for how the movie makes you realize what loneliness can really do to a person.
Due to a lazy eye her mother wanted to keep hidden from her peers, May wore an eyepatch for a large part of her childhood. This caused a lot of her schoolmates to distance themselves from her. For this reason, she grew up with no friends except Suzie, her glass-encased doll which her mother had given her to address her need for friends. Because of misguided ideas of parenthood and May’s own personal inability to conduct herself acceptably in social situations, she lives a life of isolation, with Suzie as her only friend. It is only when she falls for Adam, a local mechanic, did May begin to attempt to socialize – even giving in to exploring her sexuality with both Adam and Polly, her lesbian colleague, and experimenting with cigarettes.
We see, however, that despite May beginning to socialize and experience new things, that she has not yet outgrown her childish insecurities and handles rejection quite unfavorably. She childishly blames Suzie for Adam’s rejection of her when it wasn’t her fault at all. Her inability also to share Suzie with her blind companions was telling of how even though she was opening herself up to new people and experiences, she still held on to her life of isolation and all the baggage that came with it. This, I believe, is what lead her to handle rejection the way she did, by doing what her mother so wrongly told her – “if you can’t find a friend, make one.”
As weird and gruesome as it was, I actually really enjoyed this movie. Though her horrifying quest for parts was heaps more interesting then the sluggish buildup, I personally believe that all scenes were relevant in helping the audience learn about May which really helped us understand May and even sympathize with her in the end. The ending was haunting but at the same time heart-wrenching as you can’t help but pity May for the lengths she had to go through for companionship. It was this feeling of pity that lead me to be more delighted then frightened when Amy, her life-sized rag doll made of dismembered parts of all those she had killed, came to life and touched May’s face as she smiled.
Though this movie saw the normally male gaze being held by May towards Adam instead of the other way around, this movie reminded me more of Robin Wood’s idea of horror movies being an attempt to deal/express repressed material than Linda William’s idea of the gaze. Wood sees fantasy as “coded expression of the tension between social norms and unconscious desires” which I think relates to May greatly. Her story reminds us of fears of rejection for being different or our unconscious desire for acceptance from our peers. In a society where bullying has even gone so far as to lead children to suicide, it is not surprising that we can see in the character of May a representation of resistance to a social stumbling block we all wish to budge – that of rejection.