May December Movie Review: Tackling stories about sexual assault are always tricky, but Todd Haynes’ May December brings a perspective to it that honestly will leave you heartbroken once the credits start rolling. It’s a nuanced watch that doesn’t spoon feed you all the information, and that’s a really a great aspect about it that made so much of May December be impactful. Bringing on a tabloid-like scandal on-screen to talk about something so important, this is one of the year’s highly impressive watches that doesn’t surrender its vision to deliver “safe” answers. Cannes 2023: Natalia Portman, Julianne Moore’s Film May December Gets Six-Minutes Standing Ovation at the Premiere.
Directed by Todd Haynes, May December sees actress Elizabeth Berry (Natalie Portman) travel to Georgia to study a woman named Grace (Julianne Moore) whom she will be playing in a film – who is infamous for striking a relationship with her now-husband, Joe (Charles Melton), who was just a minor when they originally met. The film is essentially a character study of Grace and Joe that is viewed through the lenses of Elizabeth and in that do we find revelations that truly come across as damning.
Like most of Todd Haynes’ films, May December has a peculiar aspect to it where it does elevate a lot of its scenery with camp. From the soundtrack to the framing of the cinematography itself, it’s a drama that’s playing out like an interrogation. While some of it can get a bit over-the-top at times, it maintains a certain level of sincerity to it where the serious subject matter is handled with the utmost respect.
Natalie Portman brings a nosy nature to Elizabeth where she almost feels like a detective out to get the elusive truth. She is provocative and always looking to poke in other people's business which makes so much of her performance seem captivating. Almost anti-naturalistic to its core and something that definitely does have your eyes constantly glued to the screen. How far will an actor go to perfect their role? It’s here where the moral lines blur. That nosiness of course gets in the way of Julianne Moore’s Grace, and its here where so much of May December unnerving aspects take shape.
Watch the Trailer for May December:
Moore’s performance makes you uncomfortable and is an acute look into the mindset of a groomer. She is manipulative towards Joe and even blames him for “seducing” here, and in scenes like those is where the movie brings so much authenticity to it where you can compare it to real-life situations. But so much of the film wouldn’t have been impactful if it wasn’t for the harrowing performance given by Charles Melton.
Melton portrays Joe like a man who is constantly questioning the dwindling nature of his marriage. He knows what happened to him, but isn’t able to accept it which causes him to act stunted. A child robbed off his innocence, Melton will leave you devastated with a performance that speaks volumes with just his expressions.
And that’s a fascinating thing about May December, because Haynes – alongside screenwriters Samy Burch and Alex Mechanik – never give you straight answers and respect the audiences enough to come up with their own conclusions. It’s an unconventional take that does pay off in the end with melodramatic overtones that aren’t afraid to showcase the painful nature of the story. There are no “safe” answers here. Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore to Star in 'May December'.
Its an exploration of pain, guilt and trauma that is focused on telling an impactful story that doesn’t feel tacked on or self-pandering. It revels within its sincerity, and I think for that, May December truly is one of the best watches this year.
Director Todd Haynes alongside the magnificent trio of Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore and Charles Melton make so much of May December worth it. A painful exploration of sexual assault that’s unnerving to its core, this is an impactful watch that handles its subject matter with utmost care. Come awards season, May December will definitely be a favourite among many.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 02, 2023 09:58 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).