MAGGIE MAY **** Australia 2018 Dir: Mia Kate Russell. 14 mins
At the wake for old Sylvia May, who took a fatal fall, the eponymous Maggie May (played with astonishingly detached venom by Lulu McClatchy) utters what will prove to be the story’s defining line: “I didn’t know what to do, so I didn’t do anything”. Maggie’s sister Sam (Katrina Mathers) is trying to get her late mum’s utility bills and other affairs in order while awful relatives like Maggie spend the wake crunching snacks and looking at their phones. A shocking further “accident” reaffirms Maggie’s total apathy.
Writer-director Mia Kate Russell, in the latest of a series of distinctive, blackly humorous shorts, knows how to make an audience uncomfortable. The protagonist of MAGGIE MAY suffers a truly wince-inducing injury that is made even more harrowing by the gruelling scenario in which she finds herself : unable to move while her twin babies scream relentlessly and her slobbish, uncaring sister gets on with her daily routine of eating and watching trash TV. All the while, she is haunted by visions of her mean husband and her late mother (“You’re not meant to have favourites…”). It’s a superbly acted study of the banality of everyday evil, finding great discomfort and a lot of gallows humour in its repeated cutaways to the heroine in an ever more horrifyingly distressed state prior to a suitably bleak conclusion. You won’t easily forget McClatchy’s portrait of the monstrously heartless sibling … and, yes, Rod’s old classic “Maggie May” does get a cover version over the end credits.
Review by Steven West