Welcome To Sundance: May in the Summer

When I got my very first tattoo, I kept it hidden from my mother for over two years. I was twenty-one at the time and living on my own, but I knew I would never hear the end of it if she found out. I made the horrible mistake of showing it to my younger brother who later blabbed to my mother one day while they were fighting.

I haven’t heard the end of it since.

I’ve since learned that every good family keeps secrets from one another. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a thing. Even the least profound truths about our lives are sometimes best kept behind closed doors when family is involved. Which is exactly why I still can’t accept my mother’s friend request on Facebook.

When it comes to love and relationships they say secrets are a cancer. Sometimes, it’s not the secrets that you keep from one another that are the most harmful, it’s the secrets that you keep from yourself that can really damage what you have with another person. If you aren’t honest with yourself about what you need and what you want, there is no way that the person you are with could possibly be able to give them to you.

Welcome To Sundance

May In The Summer is a fantastic new triumph for director and writer turned actress Cherien Dabis. The film follows the triumph of her last Sundance Film Festival release Amreeka. Having already won over a dozen awards for her short film Make a Wish and being a contributing writer for Showtime’s The L Word, May in the Summer is a perfect step in the right direction for Dabis and solidifies her as an important female voice of film making today.

May in the Summer follows a pretty young writer from New York named May as she goes to visit her family and prepare for her wedding in Jordan. May, who is played by Cherien Dabis herself, is dealing with a severe case of cold feet from the moment she arrives to Jordan. To make matters worse, she is forced to deal with two younger sisters in the midst of figuring themselves out, a mother who does not approve of her marriage and a father she hasn’t seen in 8 years. Throughout the course of a few weeks together, each family member is confronted with the secrets that they have been keeping from each other, as well as the secrets they have been keeping from themselves.

The best part about May in the Summer is the interaction between the sisters. The truth in Dabis’ writing flows naturally into the girls conversations with one another. If you have siblings of your own, you’ll constantly being saying to yourself ‘God, I’ve totally been there’. The sisters are played by Alia Shawkat of Arrested Development and the Kardashin-esque Nadine Malouf, both of whom you will want to hug and strangle throughout the film.

Hiam Abbass plays the role of May’s mother, a divorcee living in Jordan who has substituted trying to find real love with her new found love of Jesus. Abbass’ performance shines through the small gestures in her face. She is able to say everything she needs you to know with puckered lips and a raised eyebrow. An adventurous Bill Pullman stepped out of the comfort of the hollywood sets to experience what it’s like to film in the Jordan heat. Pullman delivers an elegantly quiet performance that makes you forget you are looking at a well known celebrity and turns him simply into a father who just ain’t around.

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