May in the Summer Blu-ray Review
May (Cherien Dabis) is getting married in a few weeks. There is one problem. She is having second thoughts. This is certainly not uncommon for future brides. Meanwhile her mother Nadine (Hiam Abbass) is actively rooting against the wedding. She is a devout Palestinian Christian woman living in Jordan. May’s fiancée Ziad (Alexander Siddig) is a Muslim and this is causing much consternation in May’s family. That is the backdrop for MAY IN THE SUMMER, a pleasant drama that mixes in comedy as well.
May is a writer. Her last book about Proverbs was a big hit and well received in Jordan. May lives in New York, but is getting married in Jordan. May has two younger sisters Yasmine (Nadine Malouf) and Dalia (Alia Shawkat). Yasmine is outgoing and enthusiastic, while Dalia is more low key. Their father Edward (Bill Pullman) is an American diplomat and has been divorced from their mother for almost a decade. He has a new younger wife now. His cheating ways caused the family much grief and took a lot of time for everyone to get over.
May is trying to write a follow up to her successful first book, but is drawing a blank. Her fiancée is going to join her later, but she is not keen to this development. She really wanted him to join her sooner as their relationship has been rocky lately. This is the first acting role for Dabis, who also wrote and directed this feature. She usually is behind the scenes as a writer, director or producer. She is refreshing as May. She is natural and she exudes pain, relief, joy and sadness with great aplomb. I bought her in the role.
MAY IN THE SUMMER really gets the family dynamic right. We see May and her two sisters go to a club to dance and get drunk. We see them get together with their father and step mother for an awkward encounter. There is tension and jealousy bubbling at the surface. This is like many families. Yasmine is upset with May about keeping secrets from her. May is not happy with Yasmine that she didn’t tell her about her job status. Yasmine is not pleased with Dalia about not openly discussing her sexual orientation. They fight and bicker, but always come back together. Their mother is making life difficult for May by saying she is not going to attend the wedding. There is sadness with the mother that her life has flashed before her and she wasted it on a man who cheated on her. She doesn’t seem to have meaning in her life and she’s trying to hold on to something like religion in this case.
The setting of Amman, Jordan is one of the biggest assets to the film. Jordan is one of the oldest established countries in the world. The architecture and the sights are breathtaking to behold. It is perfect for this story because you have tradition and progress fighting against each other in the same place. That’s what you have with May trying to marry outside her faith, while her mother clings to the old world ways.
Each family member discovers something about themselves. That is I believe what the movie is really trying to convey. The concept of self discovery is in play here. While it is true the story meanders from discussions about faith to more of a screwball comedy, I still enjoyed being in the company of these characters. The family felt real and authentic and that’s what it is all about. You don’t have to necessarily relate to movie characters, but you do have to believe them.
Video: Jordan looked great in this film.
Sound: The sound was fine in the film.
Behind the Scenes with Cherien Dabis (2:09): Dabis talks briefly about the film and what it meant for her.