A War-Torn Feminist Fairy Tale That Doesn’t Go Far Enough
by Travis Hopson | Punch Drunk Critics
Karen Cinorre’s fantastical, feminist war film Mayday is what Sucker Punch might’ve been if Zack Snyder had no budget to work, a clearer perspective, and a female screenwriter. Both films follow an all-female team of badasses in a fantasy realm borne out of the need for emotional recovery from trauma. But where Snyder failed to have a cohesive idea in the first place, Cinorre doesn’t push her bold ideas far enough, despite the best efforts of a game cast led by Grace Van Patten and Mia Goth.
Shortly before Ana (Van Patten) washes up in an otherworldly realm, we’re introduced to the paltry life she has in our own. A lowly caterer working a wedding, she’s treated like trash by her boss, who berates and physically abuses her. The other men barely notice her at all, with the exception of a couple of co-workers (Théodore Pellerin, Zlatko Buric) who appreciate her company. A couple of new faces stand out, though. Marsha (Goth) is having cold feet before her nuptials, but before the show can go on, an electrical storm shorts everything out. When Ana flips the power back on, she finds herself transported through the looking glass, so to speak.
The WWII-esque world Ana wakes up to is a twisted version of her own. The first person she encounters is Marsha, but this isn’t the scared bride-to-be. Marsha is now giggly, confident, and…well, a killer, as the washed-up male soldier seeking aid soon finds out. In this reality, Marsha leads the rugged Gert (Soko, on a roll right now with Little Fish and The Blazing World), and skittish Bea (Havana Rose Liu) in luring any man they can find, usually with a “MAYDAY” distress call, to his unsuspecting death.
“Girls make excellent snipers“, Marsha says. More than just a quick friend, Marsha is drill instructor, but make no mistake, she’s also a murderous fanatic. She teaches Ana how to make her voice softer, to show weakness, because men can’t resist a woman either in distress or subservience. She also says radicalizing things like, “You’ve been in a war your entire life, you just didn’t know it.” In this place, women are done trying to make nice with the men who have mistreated them. This is a place of vengeance.
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