A war you can’t win.
The initials for the title “Mayday” are repeated as “Mary,” “Alpha,” “Yankee,” “Delta,” “Alpha,” and “Yankee.” And they’re echoed until we see the person speaking those words on the radio.
“Mayday” is a drama fantasy that acts like a hate crime towards men, as there are women in a WWII universe, where they kill men-good or bad. “Promising Young Women” knew how to handle the bad men, whereas, this movie has a mean streak. I see what writer/director Karen Cinorre is trying to convey with the following set-up, but it feels too cynical and dull for me to praise.
We meet Ana (Grace Van Patten, Dick Van Patten’s niece), a young hotel worker, who is mistreated by her superiors as a nobody, especially as they prepare for a wedding reception. In fact, when a wedding photographer (Nathaniel Allen) asks the head waiter (Frano Maskovic) who she is, he responds: “Nobody.” Then, a storm hits, and Ana gets shocked by the power box.
Of course when characters get electrocuted, they have to end up in a dream or a parallel universe. This parallel universe, I’m going to have to assume it is, takes place during WWII, I’m going to also assume, and he wakes up on an island with the bride from her world altered as the dashing Marsha (Mia Goth). She invites Ana to live in a submarine with two other girls: the stoic Gert (Soko) and the sleep-talker Bea (Havana Rose Liu).
They train the girl to fight and kill their enemies, who are the good or bad men. Ana kills some, but then she realizes that the real monster is Marsha, for living under the assumption that all men are evil. That’s when she decides to break free from this world.
Patten’s performance is fine in the ways she struggles to transcend from a weakling to a Braveheart, while Goth is all behaviors and less material. And Juliette Lewis also comes in as both a bathroom attendant from Ana’s world, and the wisecracking mechanic June from the new world. She has to help Ana make her way back to her world.
The movie also wants to be visionary when we see the radio lights blinking, and when we see Ana leading the male soldiers in a dance sequence (at least I think it’s a dance sequence). I think there are some attractive sequences (most of which take place during the second half), but they don’t have much meaning inside them. They seem obligatory and standard.
And the movie is standard, and also cynical in how it presents the set-up of a modern girl in a period world. I guess that since it’s an independent feature, released by Magnolia Pictures, that her reaction isn’t supposed to be all “Where am I?” or “What year is this?.” Maybe it would have been too generic and less believable. I can’t say for sure. I have been curious lately about whether or not characters in artisan features talk less than in mainstream features, not that I have a problem with it. I’m just curious, that’s all.
I have nothing but the utmost respect for women, and I know most of them have senses, but “Mayday” didn’t convince me to enlist in their army.
In Select Theaters This Friday