"So many pretty parts, no pretty wholes."



May is not a straight forward, transparent Frankenstein adaptation. Directed by Lucky McKee and released in 2002, this film follows the life of its strange and twisted title character, played by Angela Bettis, through a series of ill-fated attempts at acceptance into society. Though this adaptation and the novel have little in common in terms of storyline, they do share themes of alienation and the grotesque.

                Both the novel and the book document the creation of a creature formed by the body parts of cadavers. Victor Frankenstein plunders the “charnel houses” to disturb the “profane secrets of the human frame” (36). May, instead, assembles her creature from the adored parts of her companions, saying: “so many pretty parts and no pretty wholes.” In May, the creation scene is the culminating point of the movie. Frankenstein’s creation takes place in the first of three volumes. There is also a difference in the motives for creating their respective “monsters.” May’s creature is the product of pain and alienation, an insane attempt at reconciling the ambivalent feelings she expresses towards the people she dismembers. Frankenstein’s creation, though also a product of alienation, is an attempt at bolstering his egotism and furthering science.

                The relationship between May and her creation is driven by need, love, and the need to be loved; Victor’s detachment from and abjection of his creature are entirely different. The film details May’s socially awkward upbringing, living a sheltered life where her only friend is a very disturbing doll, Susan. Her mother encourages her alienation, telling May: “I’ve always said, ‘If you can’t find a friend, make one’” (qtd. in IMDB). She takes the advice seriously and, when faced with deception and rejection of those who call themselves her friends (Adam, Polly, Petey and even a pet cat in the movie), she makes her own. In an interview with Bettis, she mentions a “freak zone” that May lacks; this is obvious in her imperviousness to Adam’s artsy short film, a satire he calls “Jack and Jill” in which the couple becomes as intimate as two persons possibly can (digested). Eventually, Bettis’ character undergoes a dramatic shift in attitude, where the prey becomes predator and May spends Halloween trick-or-treating for body parts. When she finally collects all of the anatomy she desires, except a head, she stitches the parts together, and makes a life-size Frankenstein’s monster “friend.” She fabricates the head out of plush, embedding one of her own eyeballs, which she removes herself, and names the monstrosity “Amy,” an anagram of her name. The last line of the movie is delivered with gut-wrenching emotional appeal: “All I want is—see me—!” The center of the movie’s thematic structure is thus unveiled: this poor girl only wants a friend who will see what she is unable to tactfully show: her desperate need for acceptance and love.




Rotten Tomato Reviews

Angela Bettis Interview