Grace Van Patten talks survival and sisterhood in ‘Mayday’

By Jami Ganz

This sisterhood’s siren call is deadly.

In Karen Cinorre’s “Mayday,” now playing in theaters and available to watch on demand, Grace Van Patten stars as Ana, a young woman transported to a mysterious island where she and her fellow spiritual sisters eliminate any man they can — simply because they’re men.

”Ana in the beginning ... is hanging by a thread. She is as broken as you can be,” Van Patten, best known for playing Zoe in “Nine Perfect Strangers,” told the Daily News.

Beaten down in a patriarchal reality, Ana finds herself in this new land as a sort of siren, luring servicemen to their deaths by using the code word “Mayday” and pretending to be a damsel in distress.

Throughout their history, the women on the island have been exploited by men. The violence, they explain to Ana, is not mere revenge. It’s their way of breaking the cycle. But even though she has faced sexism in her job as a hotel worker, Ana slowly finds herself at odds with that mission.

“Like everyone, we can get drawn into things, we can be tempted, and she fell into that for a hot second,” said Van Patten. “And she fell into this world and this power of being in control. . . . She needed to feel that in order to understand her own strength and what that meant to her.”

Ana, she said, achieved that through the bond she shared with the other women on the island and the realization “that people do care about her and that people will care about her,” giving her the confidence she’d been missing.

“The actress said she “just read the script and was so transported to this world that I had never seen before, read before.”

It wasn’t just the “bottomless pit of metaphors and meanings” that drew her, however.

“The idea of working with all women was so exciting to me. I had never done that, it’s rare. Who knows when I’ll be able to do it again?”

The film’s arrival at a time when women are finding themselves targeted — the restrictive new abortion law in Texas, the Taliban’s crackdown on women’s rights in Afghanistan — feels prescient. It’s understandable, through such a lens, why women would seek refuge on an isolated isle and strike first against their perceived oppressors.

“Ultimately, I think it’s a story of a young woman finding her inner strength and power,” said Van Patten. “But I think in order for her to do so, she had to confront these [sides] of herself that she was afraid to look into before.”

She is optimistic that audiences reeling from the pandemic will come away with a positive feeling about their own resolve.

“I hope that young women especially see this movie and mostly after this year, when everyone had hit their low points, I think it shows that you can get through [anything],” she said.

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