|17 november 2023
In May December, Todd Haynes deftly traverses the complex landscape of inter-age romance, unraveling the layers of societal perceptions, individual identity and the multidimensional nature of love. With a blend of dark humor, poignant emotion and artistic innovation, the film immerses its audience in a challenging exploration of relationships that defy societal norms.
The film centers on Gracie (Julianne Moore), a Southern housewife whose taboo affair with Joe (Charles Melton), a schoolboy thirteen years her junior, shocked the nation. Two decades after their scandalous love made headlines, the film offers a window into the evolution of their relationship as it navigates the murky waters of societal judgment and personal growth.
Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), a renowned actress chosen to play Gracie in a prestigious biopic, enters the picture. Armed with a notebook and eager to delve into the depths of their unconventional love story, Elizabeth enters Gracie and Joe's suburban home, unleashing a captivating battle of wits and emotions. As these characters clash, the film gradually peels back the layers of their facades, exposing their vulnerabilities, their secrets and the complex dance of power dynamics.
At its core, May December is a testament to the power of performance on and off screen. Haynes masterfully depicts the blurred lines between the roles individuals play in their relationships and the roles they adopt to navigate society's expectations. Gracie, caught between her public image as a scandalous figure and her private struggles, becomes a study in contradictions, played with exceptional depth by Moore. Melton's portrayal of Joe deftly captures his transition from innocent schoolboy to a man haunted by the choices of his youth.
Portman's Elizabeth adds another layer of complexity to the story. Her presence raises questions about the nature of authenticity in performance, as she struggles to understand the characters she embodies while facing her own desires and motivations. The film seamlessly weaves together themes of identity, authenticity and emotional truth, blurring the boundaries between reality and illusion.
Haynes' directorial choices give the film a distinct visual style reminiscent of his early work. The deliberate use of distorted aesthetics, confusing camera angles and haunting music creates an atmosphere of unease, reflecting the characters' inner turmoil. Subtle nods to film classics such as Bergman's Persona and soap opera elements contribute to the film's rich tapestry.
As the characters' lives unfold under the cinematic lens, May December addresses the notion of performative femininity, a recurring theme in Haynes' filmography. Through the eyes of Gracie, Elizabeth and Joe, the film dissects the complexities of self-presentation and the expectations placed on individuals within their relationships.
The film's refusal to provide easy answers is both its strength and its challenge. Haynes invites the audience to grapple with moral ambiguities and ponder the limits of love and acceptance. The absence of definitive resolutions leaves room for personal interpretation, prompting discussion and introspection after viewing.
At a time when tabloid headlines and societal judgments often overshadow individual stories, May December is a compelling reminder of the depths that lie beneath the surface. It encourages viewers to look beyond the scandalous headlines and delve into the human experiences that shape our understanding of love, identity and relationships. A captivating blend of art and introspection, May December is a cinematic journey that lingers in the mind long after the credits roll, prompting us to question the roles we play and the truths we seek.
Directed by Todd Haynes
Written by Samy Burch
Story by Samy Burch, Alex Mechanik
Produced by Jessica Elbaum, Will Ferrell, Christine Vachon, Pam Koffler, Natalie Portman, Sophie Mas, Grant S. Johnson, Tyler W. Konney
Starring Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Charles Melton
Cinematography : Christopher Blauvelt
Edited by Affonso Gonçalves
Music by Marcelo Zarvos
Production companies : Gloria Sanchez Productions, Killer Films, MountainA, Taylor & Dodge, Project Infinity
Distributed by Netflix
Release dates : May 20, 2023 (Cannes), November 17, 2023 (United States), January 24, 2024 (France)
Running time : 113 minutes
Seen on september 8 2023 at Deauville international center