HomeMoviesMay December, review of the film by Todd Haynes – Cannes 76

May December, review of the film by Todd Haynes – Cannes 76

May December, review of the film by Todd Haynes – Cannes 76

May December (2023)

With a burst of disturbing comedy, wondering about the roles and spaces we occupy in life, arrives in competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2023 May Decemberthe new film by Todd Haynes (I’m not here, Carol), with protagonists Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore and the Riverdale star Charles Melton. In the film, twenty years after their infamous tabloid romance gripped the nation, the widely age-gap couple of Joe And Thank you (Melton And Moore) begins to falter when an actress, Elizabeth (Portman), spends some time at their house to prepare for his next film, in which he will play Gracie.

May December: suburban love

In May December, Julianne Moore meets with Haynes to interpret Gracie Atherton-Yoo, a ditzy former teacher who rose to fame in 1992 when she left her ex-husband for one of her 13-year-old students. We are now in 2015, the situation has somewhat normalized, and Thank you And Joe they’ve been together long enough that their youngest children are about to graduate high school. At the Savannah beachfront mansion that Gracie and Joe paid for with their appearances on the reality show”Inside Editionparcels full of excrement still arrive occasionally, but these deliveries – “gifts” from random strangers who can’t stomach the couple’s romance – have become less common now that their scandalous romance has settled into the suburban reality. Or so it seems.

But the past isn’t quite ready to let go of these crazy kids and Thank you she doesn’t have the good sense to keep him at a safe distance. Despite her skepticism towards celebrities, Gracie decides to roll out the welcome mat for the TV actress Elizabeth Berryplayed by Natalie Portman. Elizabeth is the same age as Gracie when she first had sex with Joe in the back of a pet store – a memory that has become public knowledge – and is set to play her in an upcoming independent film about the scandal.

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in May December

Double and distorted perceptions

In May Decemberthe study of doubles means literally staging a film within a film to characterize its characters: only by thoroughly analyzing the appearances of those around us, their ways of doing, trying to trace them and understand what role they play in our existence, we can get into the psychology of Joe, Thank you and Elizabeth. As for an actress who has immersed herself too much in character, getting out of Joe and Gracie’s domestic bubble will not be easy, and neither will being able to actually establish with certainty what they are telling us is true and how much some of the information we are collecting is distorted by perception distorted they want to have of reality.

Everything in this unlikely couple’s relationship and everyday life is turned upside down: values, roles, life as a couple. Joe he is a boy who grew up too fast, with not too much age difference compared to his children, but who has to take care of Gracie’s fragile personality and, therefore, fulfill many more tasks and roles: he is simultaneously husband, father and friend. The character of Mooreon the other hand, he stopped the moment when he met Joe: he disintegrated his previous marriage for a boy who was then in middle school and, without thinking of any consequences, he decided to re-establish his own idea of ​​nucleus familiar. Thank you she thinks that by filling the house with people, loved ones, heirlooms and futile recipes for various cakes and pastries that her neighbors commission out of pity, she can fill the void that a relationship so disproportionate from every point of view has left in her. In reality, she has mentally regressed to an almost adolescent state and sees in Joe a savior prince, diligent in protecting her and all the extended family that she brings with her at the same time.

A case study between reality and fiction

L’Elizabeth Of Natalie Portman is the joker that corresponds to the spectatorial point of view in May December and which attempts to discern true from false, what happened and perceptions amplified by the present and the manipulation of the tabloids, among Thank you And Joe. While approaching and touching Gracie’s life first-hand, making her some of her daily experiences, Elizabeth maintains a basic imperturbability. Outwardly, she makes a fool of herself to the max trying to unravel the secret of a grotesque existence and with her Natalie Portman, who agrees to put himself in the shoes of an actress perhaps even more speck than the real character she will have to play. Mentally, however, we are never on the same level as Elizabeth: it is true that she experiences the audience with us, which leads us step by step in the life of Gracie and Joe in their villa in Maine, but it becomes unreadable as much as her “case studies“.

Among the three performances, perhaps the one that emerges the most and is surprising precisely because it comes from a very young actor, is that of Melton. The actor of Riverdale manages to fully capture the facets of his character, giving him a handsome air of the very popular young adults but also giving him a constantly desolate and melancholy air, uncertain in his constant balance between being an adult and being a child again. His Joe it is at the same time appetizing and tender, sunny and anguished. A winning character who has confined himself to a land of total isolation, far from the camp tone of the film, from the vivid colors of his photography and the luxuriant nature that surrounds him. Perhaps it is precisely through the character of Joe that Haynes manages to expose his characters to the lie, the artificiality of their behavior and the false paradise they have created. Camp melodrama to the core, Todd Haynes’ disturbing irony sheds light with May December on the (s)proportions of roles and family values ​​of a reality pervaded by fiction.