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193 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Angela Bettis Works Wonders in "May"
I suspect the movie "May" snuck in under most people's radar. In fact, I am not sure many people know about this wonderful little picture even now. I only came across it through pure chance, read a short review about it, and decided to give it a shot. I am certainly glad I watched "May" because this film about a meek young woman with a desperate need to belong really...
Published on August 29, 2003 by Jeffrey Leach

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A DOLL'S HOUSE
MAY is an original "horror" film to say the least. Angela Bettis is gripping in the title role: May, a young woman who was burdened with a "lazy eye" while growing up and turned to a porcelain doll made by her mother for companionship. She finds herself attracted to Jeremy Sisto (a good performance here), but mainly is fascinated with his hands. Her co-worker and only...
Published on September 9, 2005 by Michael Butts

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193 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Angela Bettis Works Wonders in "May", August 29, 2003
This review is from: May (DVD)
I suspect the movie "May" snuck in under most people's radar. In fact, I am not sure many people know about this wonderful little picture even now. I only came across it through pure chance, read a short review about it, and decided to give it a shot. I am certainly glad I watched "May" because this film about a meek young woman with a desperate need to belong really delivers on multiple levels. This movie underscores the fact that there are plenty of films floating around out there that deserve more attention than they receive from general audiences. I cannot say whether "May" got a theatrical release or not, but the film is available on DVD and is well worth picking up if you are a horror film aficionado or if you just enjoy great acting performances.
Angela Bettis plays May, a young woman with several serious mental issues. Her problems started as a child, when doctors diagnosed May with an eye problem that required an eye patch. Of course, the kids at school thought May was a pirate or flat out ignored her. The parents did not provide much in the way of assistance either, as May's mother falls into the "overprotective and abrasive" category. When May celebrates a birthday, her mother presents her with a fancy doll enclosed in a glass case. Her daughter wishes to take the doll out and play with it, but Mom goes off the deep end and lectures May on the necessity of never taking the doll out of its box. This doll plays a significant role in May's later life, as the young woman believes the toy is her only real friend in the world. In short, May's childhood provides the foundations for a life loaded with insecurity, boredom, and a complete inability to connect with other people on an emotional level. May is one troubled person.
Most of the film deals with May's awkward attempts to function in real life. Her job as a medical assistant at a veterinary clinic allows some contact with a verbally challenged doctor and a goofy lesbian co-worker who keeps her eye firmly fixed on May, but May longs for a boyfriend to fulfill her ambitions. This dream of love takes on a new dimension when she notices Adam (Jeremy Sisto), a guy who spends his time slouching around in a cafe, smoking cigarettes, and attending Dario Argento film festivals. Obviously, Adam doesn't even notice the existence of May until the she makes several painfully inept maneuvers designed to grab his attention. May succeeds to some extent, but ultimately her fragile mental state causes problems that threaten to send May into a downward spiral of bloody violence committed against anyone who ever wronged her.
"May" is Angela Bettis's film, body and soul. Since she fills the shoes of the title character, Bettis's performance should command most of the audience's attention. Thank goodness she possesses the necessary chops to carry out the role to perfection. I cannot remember the last time I saw an actor/actress convey the range of emotions that Bettis adroitly delivers in this film. The viewer knows May has serious problems, but at the same time the character is oddly charming. The embarrassing interactions with Adam, the painful encounters with her trampy co-worker, and her attempts to reach out and help a class of blind children all reveal a young woman desperate to make friends and live like a normal person. Even more disconcerting for the viewer is the realization that May is, well, cute. Just when you notice May doing something bizarre, you cannot help recognizing that this girl is alluring no matter how quirky she is. That's the mark of a fine actress when a performance conveys two opposing emotions at the same time, and Bettis does it with ease. Who is this amazing young lady? The only other role of note I found for her was in the Winona Ryder vehicle "Girl, Interrupted." Keep an eye on Bettis because if "May" is any indication, this gal ought to go far in the future. You seldom see a performance of this caliber in a low budget horror film.
My only complaint with "May" concerns a lack of sufficient background about the title character. We do get a few scenes about May's childhood, but I think a bit more development in that area would have helped flesh out the story. It's a niggling complaint because the picture works splendidly overall. Kudos to Lion's Gate for releasing this on DVD with a great film transfer and two commentaries with the director and actors. It's a darn shame more people don't know anything about this movie. The time has come to spread the word about "May": this is an immensely entertaining horror film with a great actress doing great work in the lead role.
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A quirky masterpiece that creates its own genre, July 25, 2006
This review is from: May (DVD)
May is a peculiar sort of movie, part social commentary, part slasher flick. It manages to succeed admirably at both, despite the fact that it's central star is a cute little misfit named May.

May Dove Canady (Angela Bettis) is a sheltered misfit. Born with a lazy eye, she grows up wearing a pirate-like eye patch, only to be teased by children her entire life. Her mother (Merle Kennedy) drives the point home: if you can't find a friend, make one. And May's mother does just that, crafting a doll for her daughter with big, spooky eyes. The catch is that the doll can never be let out of her box.

And thus we have an allegory for May. May tentatively explores her world through her job as a veterinarian's assistant and her interactions with her coworkers, the barely-understandable veterinarian (Ken Davitian) and the oversexed lesbian coworker Polly (Anna Faris). Then May bumps into Adam Stubbs (Jeremy Sisto), a horror movie fan and budding auteur that specializes in gore.

Adam's first film is titled "Jack and Jill," which starts out sweet: two lovers seem to want to devour each other...and then literally do so, biting and gnawing on each other's limbs in an orgiastic frenzy. The movie deeply affects May, who is fascinated with Adam's hands. When May shift gears from foreplay to kink by biting Adam's lip, he dumps her.

All throughout the movie, May tries to connect with people. She struggles with her relationship with Polly, who uses and abuses her. Polly asks May to adopt her pet cat, a seemingly genuine gesture of friendship, only to discover that Polly never wanted the responsibility in the first place. May also joins a school for teaching blind children. When May brings her doll to class, the children are intrigued and frustrated: to a blind child, a glass box may as well be an iron vault. They plead for her to release what's in the glass box, with tragic consequences for the doll.

Bereft of her only friend and infuriated by her inability to connect with the rest of humanity, May decides to make her own friend out of the components of everyone else. Then the killing begins...

All this could be very mundane. But May is so much more. Warning: There are lots of spoilers below!

MAY AS DOLL: Polly calls May "doll," and May is very much a pure, untouched creature with wide, staring eyes just like her doll. Locked in her own glass box, May is always viewing the world from a distance. She even kisses like her dolls, smashing them together with brutal force without any coordination. When the glass on her doll's box shatters, so too does May's universe. Always watching, always a bystander, and never really touching or feeling anything...May is a walking façade, an entity pretending to be a person.

MAY AS SERIAL KILLER: May exhibits all the traits of an organized serial killer; she gets up every day and goes to work, has her own hobbies, and reads a lot. But May is completely disassociated from reality. She was most certainly abused. When May screams at her doll to "face the *** wall" we know it's her mother's voice. She views people as their components parts, alternately admiring and lusting for them. May starts by killing animals, and then escalates her rage until it transforms into murder. Frustrated, she finally releases her revenge by killing those she admires and keeping the trophies afterwards.

MAY AS GOLEM: The monster (named Amy) created from the parts of May's killing spree is animated only when she provides something of herself. But Amy's creation is telling: she arranges the three letters of her name "M-A-Y" into "A-M-Y." This is consistent with the creation of the medieval rabbis creating golems by writing the word "emet" (truth in Hebrew) on the golem's forehead to animate it. By erasing the first letter, "emet" becomes "meit" (dead), thus deactivating the golem. May can be seen as the inverse, finally living only through death, and slowly dying in her own life. Just as Amy is made from Adam's hands, God created Adam from clay--rabbis create their golems in the same fashion.

MAY AS MARY: May's just one "r" away from the virgin Mary of Christianity. May freely admits she's still a virgin. At the end of the movie, May gives "birth" to a creation, sacrificing herself so that her child may live. Most telling, the cover of the DVD portrays May with a Mary-like halo. Closer examination reveals that the halo consists of scissors and scalpels.

MAY AS OUTCAST: For those of us who had an awkward childhood, we've all had our share of being teased. Being called a freak can be hurtful. But more interesting is May's relationship with those who fancy themselves on the fringe; both Polly and Adam say they "like weird," but they really don't. They like to be thought of as weird, but they're not really unique at all. Adam and Polly are very much mundane, ultimately embodying what they supposedly are not: stereotypes. Even Blank (played by James Duval, he of Donnie Darko), who has the weirdest hair-do in the movie, treats May like a total freak. Ultimately, everyone from the blind children she teaches to her pet cat reject May.

MAY AS VOYEUR: May has gone through much of her childhood with one eye. When she finally does get full use of both eyes, she watches everything with incredible intensity. Her fascination with blind children makes her feel comfortable. They can't look at her and judge her, but she can safely judge them. Similarly, May is able to stalk Adam from a distance, watching him for hours at a restaurant. In the end, May sacrifices her eye so that she can watch, in her death, life being born through Amy.

MAY AS POSSIBILITY: The term "may" can express a measure of likelihood, possibility, desire, or fervent wish. May is very much a wistful creature, hopeful about the possibilities of having a boyfriend and of relationships that take fruit only in her imagination. It is the shattering of all those possibilities that makes May's fall so heartbreaking. She's cute. She's innocent. She's a little strange, but aren't we all?

May is one of those rare brand of movies that is both horror and drama, parable and slasher flick. Director Lucky McKee comments that "there's a lot of raw, personal stuff here" and it shows, in bloody, angry, pathetic, beautiful detail, from the spring-loaded fake blade that Adam plays with to the aching loneliness of a blind child in the park. McKee's masterpiece, like Donnie Darko, may well define its own genre.

For anyone who has ever been called a freak, for anyone who has ever been teased because of how they look, and for anyone who has ever become so exasperated with humanity that they despair there's no good left in the world...this movie's for you.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just friends...., July 17, 2003
This review is from: May (DVD)
Angelina Bettis stars in this predictable, but creepy and well-made gothic thriller about a very shy and disturbed young woman with a lazy eye. When she's little, she has to wear an eye patch, and no-one wants to be her friend, so her mom gives her a rather disturbing-looking dolly in a glass case and tells her that if you can't find a friend, the next best thing is to make one! Hmmm, I wonder what's going to happen when she takes up sewing and a job at the veterinary clinic. As if that's not enough to telegraph the ending, the first shot in the film is one from the final scene. I guess they figured the audience might get bored if they didn't open with something flashy, I don't know. Non-linear opening shots are kind of cool, when we flash back and towards the end find out the story around the shot, but it would have been more effective left out.
Jeremy Sisto (who fans of Six Feet Under will know can be creepy himself) plays an artist who worships Dario Argento (really!) only to find himself involuntarily the middle of a real life Argento film. Anna Farris (from the Scary Movie series) plays her flaky, promiscuous co-worker, who I'm pretty sure is a lesbian (yes, I'm being sarcastic, she's all over May like a cheap suit about 3 seconds after meeting her).
May tells her doll, who she still has and keeps in a glass case, all about her new potential friends... but slowly begins to become unhinged when things don't work out the way she wanted... and her doll gives her bad advice.
Some critics complained that the movie tries to 'have it both ways' and be funny and scary, but I thought it found an OK balance, there's plenty of pitch-black humor that doesn't seem out of place. Again, nearly any horror fan will guess where the movie is going, but it's still fairly original, well-made and so twisted for a fairly mainstream release movie that it's still entertaining and worth at least a rental. Great acting from Angela Bettis. I'm pretty hard to gross out, but I'm squeamish about eyes, and I had to cover mine during at least two scenes. NOTE: Cat lovers should also skip the scene titled 'Cat Lover' #15 on the DVD.
Includes nods to Maniac, Night of the Living Dead, Pieces, Opera, and most strongly, Polanski's Repulsion, so that's always cool. I also can't help but admire the filmmakers who somehow managed to get May financed and made-- no WAY could this have been an easy sell, no matter how they pitched it.
The DVD includes two commentary tracks, both of them have oddball commentators such as 'Craft Services Guy'. The commentary is a little too self-consciously wacky in parts, but has some interesting trivia. The easter egg can be found by clicking on the nearly invisible Lion's Gate logo on the main menu--there's a trailer for May, as well as others. If you want to preserve some sort of surprise, don't watch the May trailer till after the movie.
Just friends...thats all May ever wanted....
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34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I need more Parts....., November 11, 2003
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This review is from: May (DVD)
May is not normal. At first, you think there is a possibility that she could be misunderstood, but May is definitely not normal. She gives a whole new meaning to the word 'Freak'.
May grows up being different, wearing an eye patch because of a lazy eye. Mommy and Daddy give her a doll to be her friend, a doll that is one of those 'look but don't touch' dolls. If you can't meet friends, then make one.
May matures, and we pick up with her as she is working for a Veterinarian as his assistant. She sees a young man who inspires her to get contact lenses and become a bit more flirtatious, after falling in love with his hands. His beautiful hands.
May can always see the best in people, though they don't seem to see her very well at all. Betrayed by the two people who claimed to like her and her odd ways, May finally decides Mommy was right. It's time to make a new friend. Someone who will understand her.
Not a blatant blood-splatter film but nonetheless a titillating journey through the sicker side of need. There are definitely some good 'Parts' in this movie; in particular the dead kitty and the Lysol spray (he-he), plus pretty decent performances by Angela Bettis and Anna Faris (Scary Movie I & II). Creepy and a bit disturbing, this is a great movie for a first time date with that little oddball you've been meaning to ask out on a date. Enjoy!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this MAY be the best horror film in years, December 3, 2003
This review is from: May (DVD)
We American's have been dooped. We have been forced to believe that horror movies must consist of the following.
1)Bad acting
2)Thin plot lines
3)No character development
4)A freak killer taking out teenagers one by one
5)All the teens killed are bad and thus somehow deserve it
6)Every other cliche thats been used time and time again.
May provides the Dario Argento style of horror we haven't seen here in the states for a long time. While Director Lucky McKee may not ever get to display the graphic violence seen in Mr. Argento's films he has successfuly displayed the tension and immense shock they contain but also more importantly he shows the art behind the blood. May has great acting, especially by the lead actress. The scariest thing is to make you LIKE a character before they are brutally killed. The innocent are truly the most scary of all victims. Making you FEEL for someone so when they are killed you're like "oh man they didn't deserve that."
Now this is what horror is. This movie get's pretty intense as it builds our strange yet loveable heroine/villian to her inevitable conclusion about making friends.
It'll freak you out but leave you feeling strangely attached to all the preceding events. I look forward to THE VILLAGE the next project by this great up and coming horror director. Note all the little Dario Argento things scattered through out the film. (If this is your first time hearing the name Dario Argento, I warn you his movie (OPERA) freaked me out and made me fear his name under movie titles lol. So before you seek him out make sure you can stomach intense blood and gore.) But as for Mr. McKee he has set a foundation that will give his movies great credibility.
A horror movies for people that expect more from horror movies than just cheap thrills and blood.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind, June 7, 2003
Aaron (Phoenix, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: May (DVD)

Not exactly a comedy, horror or slasher flick, it's more of a weird blend of all three with a lot of psychological overtones. (translation: it really messes with your head)

And it works. Horror movies recently haven't been doing so hot. It can be left up to debate as to why the genre has been suffering, but what May does is take ordinary people, individuals with their own distince personalities, makes you like them, and then proceeds to do horrible things to them.

Take May, for example, the title character. She grew up with a "lazy eye" forcing her to wear an eye patch in grammar school, ostracizing her from the rest of the class. Twenty years later, glasses and corrective contacts fix the lazy eye, but May is no better off, having only creepy little doll named Suzy that her mother gave her to call a friend. It's a character you feel sorry for. Quirky, cute, a little weird, but withdrawn.

May's most peculiar aspect, is her love of parts. May's coworker, Polly, a really friendly lesbian played by anna farris(scary movie) has a beautiful neck. Adam, played by jeremy sisto, a student of weird and lover of dario argento, has great hands. Frustrated, May laments, "There are a lot of pretty parts, but no pretty wholes." May is pretty handy with sewing scissors, needle and thread. You can imagine that things will not turn out well.

The first half of the film is humorous, as May tries to connect to Adam, who is amused and intriqued by May. however, when may's weirdness becomes too much for Adam to handle, May is thrust into a frantic pace to find the friend that she is looking for leading to one failed connection after another. May's mother says early on, "when you don't have a friend, make one." Blood and wackiness ensues.

I'll say that in terms of acting, Angela Bettis carries the film well on her little shoulders. Going from endearing to sad to creepy to just plain psycho. The rest of the small cast fills their roles well and are entirely believable in the reactions to May and the goings on. Not like most of the dolts I wish death upon early in most horror movies.

And it is definitely not for the squeamish. After 19 years of nightmare on elm st, friday the 13th, the excorcist and such, I consider myself pretty jaded to violence. A little red stuff never bothered me. But first time director Lucky McGee uses a unique storytelling perspective and camera work which makes the acts of violence committed by may seem as if they're being performed in front of me. Meanwhile, the final shot of the film still remains in my head.

Chances are, May won't have huge commercial success, being so damn creepy and weird. Chances are, most of you will not like it. But that's the way it goes sometimes. Hopefully, you'll all check it out, cause I want this movie to do well. Definitely one of the most interesting horror movies of all time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars May, March 7, 2006
Emily R. Jarrell "emma34" (Newport News, VA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: May (DVD)
Easily one of the most memorable horror movies I've ever seen. Would easily be on my top 10 fave horror list. Very disturbing and creepy.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, Credible and Utterly Original, October 30, 2005
This review is from: May (DVD)
It's movies like May that give me hope about the future of Horror. This movie seemed to pop out of nowhere fully formed and should be treasured by any fans of clever and original left-field film. There are echoes of other great Independent genre pictures here- a little bit of Nadja, a touch of Liquid Sky, a dose or two of flavor from Re-Animator- but May stands up totally on its own.

The story concerns a creepy young woman who was burdened with a lazy eye and a psychotic mother and grew up to be criminally insane and yet remain utterly innocent. Angela Bettis' performance is a marvel- a plethora of wildly clashing impulses are contained and rendered with a strangely sexy hyperkinetic energy. Misunderstood and abused by male and female lovers, May sets out to construct her ideal friend using the body parts from all those she has encountered. May is awfully handy at crafts and is also a veterinary nurse, so she has the necessary skills to get the job done.

The first 2/3rds of the fim show May quietly unraveling, and the film's last act is a gory, unsettling and yet totally hilarious grand guignol as May sets about collecting the needed parts for her ideal friend. Lucky McKee has the ideal eye for the subject matter and the deep, moody photography paradoxically sharpens the laughs.

This is the kind of work that Independent cinema should be about. It's this kind of unclassifiable, idiosyncratic genius that deserves an audience, not the paint-by-numbers dreck oozing out of Hollywood.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loneliness can be very dangerous, January 19, 2007
This review is from: May (DVD)
Nobody knows what to make of May (Angela Bettis). Born with a lazy eye, for which she wore a patch while growing up, she became a loner oddball whose only friend was a perfectly kept doll. She moves to L.A. and takes up with a filmmaker (Jeremy Sisto), but the relationship sours quickly -- and dangerously. She then befriends an alluring lesbian colleague (Anna Faris), but that, too, along with every connection May attempts to make, turns deadly.I found May accidentally one day while surfing the web. There were several very positive reviews, and as I am always open to discovering new independent films, I rented it as soon as possible. May is the story of a girl who is born with a lazy eye and becomes very socially isolated as a result. Her only true friend is a doll enclosed in glass that she can never touch. The movie focuses on how May as an adult has reached the brink: she is either going to begin to learn to make friends and interact with people normally... or not. The movie is hip-deep in imagery and metaphors, most of which are fairly disturbing. May's attempts to interact with people will make you cringe with embarassment; many of the scenes are very bloody and the movie climaxes with some fairly graphic violence. But it's the more subtle imagery- primarily focusing on May's doll- that really set the creepy, uncomfortable tone. You can't believe something like this could ever happen... but on the other hand, you almost can. The underlying idea is a fairly common and basic one: the desire to make a connection with another human being. May takes that promise and puts a new, disturbing, and fascinating spin on it. If you are not able to handle graphic and disturbing images, May is not for you. If you like unique, disturbing, intelligently made movies that actually make you think, then you will love this film. Absolutely one of the best movies I have seen in years; I immediately bought a copy after watching it, and I can't give a much better review than that. My only complaint with the DVD is a lack of a "making of" segment; I would have loved a behind-the-scenes look
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very unique tale of a lonely girl that builds a best friend, April 5, 2007
This review is from: May (DVD)
A lonely girl named May leads an isolated existence with no companionship other than her encased doll, until one day she meets the perfect guy. Slowly she comes out of her shell as her doll's case cracks more and more. After getting rebuffed by her man and a woman and even a cat (!), she begins her mental descent into madness culminating in the final scene where she finally gets what she always wanted.

May is an updated version of Frankenstein with the girl mistaken for a pirate (monster) for wearing a corrective eye patch. There are themes of isolation, loneliness, and insanity. May speaks of liking people, most of them anyway, and disliking certain parts. May is the perfect embodiment of the awkward girl struggling for attention. I believe only Bettis could have pulled off this difficult role. She is both vulnerable, yet powerful at the same time.

The supporting cast is great particularly Anna Faris (Scary Movie 1-5) who plays the mighty flirtatious lesbian co-worker Polly. And while that description sounds cheesy, her character is anything but. She steals almost every scene she is in and I am completely smitten with her. She holds her cat and sulks across the screen purring like a pussy herself. Jeremy Sisto plays the cute, but aloof Adam whose room is covered in Dario Argento's Opera posters. He shows his character drawn to May's quirkiness, yet repulsed by her natural desires.

I think in different hands with different actors, the film would have failed miserably. But each actor made his or her character someone unique. This film also works as a shining example of McKee's great storytelling skills. Haunting moments include dead cat play, bloodied eyeballs, blind kids crawling over glass, scissor stabbings, and a very creepy doll.

Released in 2002 by Lions Gate, the movie clocks in at 93 minutes. There is apparently missing footage from the movie such as multiple scenes of young May featuring the "Bird Wing Chopping" scene where May tries to make her doll fly. Hopefully, this will get re-released at a later time with the extra scenes.

DVD Extras: Hidden Trailers and some interesting Commentary. The German release has production notes and Biographies, while Australia provided a 14 still Photo Gallery.

Favorite Quote: Polly, "The Doctor needs you to do a Fee-Ko Zam on the Miss Ka-Tay. Does that make any sense?" May, "Fecal exam on Miss Kitty."

Bottom Line: Very unique tale of a lonely girl that builds her best friend.

Rating: 8/10

by Molly Celaschi
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May by Lucky McKee (DVD - 2003)
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