Sundance Film Festival: ‘Mayday’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Mayday is written and directed by Karen Cinorre. It is a daring, visceral debut with absolutely stunning cinematography. It is such a powerful story that addresses womanhood through an alternate reality. We meet Ana, who was just startled out of her dream and the last words we hear, in a whisper, is mayday. As she prepares for a wedding for a woman named Marsha (Mia Goth), we notice that her boss is very aggressive with her. He is physical with her whenever she does something wrong. She runs off to the freezer after he manhandles her. In there, she tries to calm herself down, as the lights begin to flicker because there’s a massive storm coming.

Her boss finds her in the freezer and goes in with her, locking the door behind him. The choice made to keep the camera on the hallway, instead of going into the freezer with Ana worked really well. The score that accompanied the dark hallway, was eerie and it is left up to the viewer to assume what was happening in there between them. Right after, we see her boss walk out and fix his tie, while Ana is on the ground looking dishevelled. She runs to the basement and tries to turn the lights back of from the electrical box but it short circuits, throwing her into an alternate reality.

When Ana washes up on this empty beach in the next shot, she is accompanied by Marsha, dressed in a war uniform. Through this alternate reality, Cinorre was able to play with the camera and create beautiful sequences that pushed boundaries. On this deserted isle, Marsha was the woman in command and trained Ana to be a sharpshooter. Cinorre also wrote clever dialogue that expressed the treatment of women and Marsha preached that she ran things differently on this island. At first Ana does what Marsha says but then as time went on she realizes that she’s not as ruthless as she thinks she is.

Mayday is so unique and for this to be Cinorre’s directorial debut is incredible. It is so stylized and well-written that it feels like a seasoned film. The film can be interpreted in so many ways and that is the beauty of it. The ensemble gives great performances but the standout is Mia Goth, who absolutely owns each and every scene she’s in. The script is structured so well and there are pieces of dialogue that express feelings from women who have been silenced or mistreated.

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