Now, this is a couple worth obsessing over…
Todd Haynes’ tenth feature film, “May December,” reunites the director with his longtime collaborator and star Julianne Moore, who leads the film as former teacher Gracie Atherton-Yu, who tumbled into the public eye when she wed husband Joe Yu (played in his later years by Charles Melton) after a salacious, tabloid-gripping romance starting when he was just 13. Natalie Portman plays an actress who is tasked with portraying Gracie in an upcoming biopic about the shocking story.
Per the film’s official synopsis, “May December” is set “twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, (as) a married couple (Julianne Moore and Charles Melton) buckles under the pressure when an actress (Natalie Portman) arrives to do research for a film about their past.” When Hollywood actress Elizabeth Berry (Portman) comes to spend time with the family, which also includes Gracie and Joe’s teenaged twins, to better understand Gracie, family dynamics unravel under the pressure of Elizabeth’s gaze. Ad Joe, having never fully processed what happened in his youth, starts to confront the reality of life as an empty-nester at 36.
“May December” is from a Black List script by Samy Burch with a story by Burch and Alex Mechanik. Actress Moore previously worked with Haynes on “Safe,” “Wonderstruck,” and “Far from Heaven.” The cast is rounded out by Piper Curda, Elizabeth Yu, and Gabriel Chung, who play Moore and Melton’s on-screen children.
“May December” premiered at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, and will open the 2023 New York Film Festival in the coming days. IndieWire’s Cannes review compared the film to “All About Eve” and “Persona,” with critic David Ehrlich writing “May December” is a “catty-as-fuck dark comedy that deepens Haynes’ longstanding obsession with performance while poking fun at the kind of actresses he clearly loves so much. Haynes’ tonal playfulness has sometimes been overshadowed by the unerring consistency of his emotional textures, but here, in the funniest and least ‘stylized’ of his films, it’s easier than ever to appreciate his genius for using artifice as a vehicle for truth.”
Ehrlich especially praised Moore’s performance, calling the actress “predictably sensational, her soft-hard performance balancing Gracie on the knife’s edge between childlike fragility and matriarchal savageness.”
“May December” premieres in select theaters on Friday, November 17 and will start streaming Netflix on Friday, December 1. Check out the film’s first trailer below.