Movie Review: May December

Film Review: “May December”

May December, directed by Todd Haynes, is a captivating exploration of exploitation, secrets, and the complexities of human relationships. This darkly funny film delves into the lives of its characters, unraveling their hidden motives and desires.

The MarkMeets team were invited to the premiere screening of the film by the BFI in London

The story centers around Elizabeth, portrayed by Natalie Portman, an actress preparing for a role as Gracie (Julianne Moore) in an upcoming film. Gracie and her husband Joe (Charles Melton) had a scandalous affair twenty years ago when Gracie was 36, and Joe was only 13. Gracie was arrested while pregnant with Joe’s child, and their illicit relationship became fodder for tabloids. Now, the couple is married with three children, and Elizabeth seeks to understand the nuances of their relationship and what led to the affair.

Initially, Elizabeth’s visit to the couple’s idyllic Georgia home appears uneventful. However, as she becomes more entangled in their lives, uncovering their peculiar behaviors and concealed secrets, tensions rise, leading to a series of unsettling events.

Despite the weighty subject matter, May December offers unexpected humor. The film cleverly weaves dark humor into its narrative, focusing on how Elizabeth navigates the complex dynamics between Gracie and Joe. The characters are not depicted as victims but as individuals exploiting each other for personal gain. The film’s humor serves as a counterbalance to its discomforting themes, creating an intriguing and somewhat horrifying viewing experience.

Throughout the film, the characters’ vividly defined personalities and the underlying tension contribute to an unsettling atmosphere. The choice to set the story during their children’s high school experience, culminating in their graduation, adds depth to the narrative. It prompts viewers to question how the couple reached this point in their relationship, the events that shaped them as their children grew up, and whether their dynamic has always been this way. The past subtly influences their actions and dialogues, gradually revealing the darker aspects of their lives.

May December boasts exceptional performances from its cast. Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore deliver outstanding portrayals, capturing the complexity of their characters’ faux-friendly interactions, characterized by both affection and judgment. Charles Melton’s nuanced performance as Joe adds depth to the film, making a lasting impact on the audience.

In conclusion, May December, with its witty direction by Todd Haynes and a well-crafted script by Samy Burch, is a thought-provoking exploration of human relationships, exploitation, and the repercussions of secrets. The film’s dark humor and compelling performances contribute to its unsettling yet captivating nature, earning it a well-deserved rating of 7.5/10.

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Jabeen Panchaya
Writer and Reviewer


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