In MAY DECEMBER, Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), a popular television star, has arrived in a tight-knit island community in Savannah. Here, she will be doing intimate research for a new part, ingratiating herself into the lives of Gracie (Julianne Moore), whom she’ll be playing on-screen, and her much younger husband, Joe (Charles Melton), to better understand the psychology and circumstances that more than 20 years ago made them notorious tabloid figures. As Elizabeth attempts to get closer to the family, the uncomfortable facts of their scandal unfurl, causing difficult, long-dormant emotions to resurface.
From the sensational premise of first time screenwriter Samy Burch’s brilliantly subtle script, director Todd Haynes (CAROL, FAR FROM HEAVEN) has constructed an American tale of astonishing richness and depth, which touches the pressure and pleasure points of a culture obsessed equally with celebrity and trauma. It’s a feat of storytelling and pinpoint-precise tone that is shrewd in its wicked embrace of melodrama while also genuinely moving in its humane treatment of tricky subject matter. Boasting a trio of bravura, mercurial performances by Moore, Portman and Melton, MAY DECEMBER is a film about human exploitation, the elusive nature of performance, and the slipperiness of truth that confirms Todd Haynes’s status as one of our consummate movie artists.
“A heartbreakingly sincere piece of high camp that teases real human drama from the stuff of tabloid sensationalism… Here, in the funniest and least ‘stylized’ of his [Todd Haynes’s] films, it’s easier than ever to appreciate his genius for using artifice as a vehicle for truth.” —David Ehrlich, IndieWire “Haynes has done something spellbinding here: heady, grown-up and committed to a refreshing dose of moral ambiguity at a time in cinema… You’ll cherish every bite of this complex layer cake that will reveal its kaleidoscopic colors as soon as you cut it open.” —Tomris Laffly, The Wrap “...Both humane and scathing. Which is why Haynes’s stylistic treatment of the subject, veering between noirish gusto and flights of snark, winds up being so touching.” —Bilge Ebiri, Vulture