I knew nothing going into this except that it was in black and white and seemed to be a character study of some kind. Low-budget and shot in a stagey way. That's fine; I adjusted my expectations. I began to wish for much tighter editing almost immediately, but appreciated the handheld angles the director chose and interwove. Interstitial scenes of actors reading stage direction appear to be taken from cold readings or auditions because they're all uniformly terrible readings. I don't know why this was done. Most of them could be left out entirely. In terms of acting, the actress who played Megan was a standout: She consistently found the emotional rhythm behind the dialogue and conveyed it, often with little apparent support from the other actors in the scene.
The real issue was the main character of Max. I should say up front: I know I am absolutely not the target audience, because I'm 45, and college was more than half a lifetime ago for me, as well as all the misanthropic bad ideas, self-important manifestos, ironically detached posturing, dramatic tantrums, and awkward romantic flailing that me and my friends definitely struggled our way through. But this script brought it all painfully back. I certainly can't blame the actress: Making the main character likable or even sympathetic was an impossible task. It seems she aimed for entertaining instead, adding in a kind of sustained energy, but even that wasn't enough, and it kept derailing any chance of the viewer emotionally connecting with her until she finally dropped it for the final scenes.
See, Max believes she's a monster - or at least claims the term because sarcasm is an easy defense - and sums herself up late in the film: "It's in our DNA. So, like, calling someone a monster isn't an insult, it's just the truth."
I can see a line like this being spoken by a character in an attempt to garner sympathy and simultaneously show how naïve and selfish they are, but Max (and the screenplay) delivers it like it's a very clever idea and a bold insight and spins up a monologue all about it. Oooh god college all over again... Somebody stop this...
There's a better, much shorter film buried in here, if an editor took a sword to it. One about 35 minutes long. A charitable four stars of ten.