FNE at Cannes 2023: Competition: May December (USA)

    May December by Todd Haynes May December by Todd Haynes source: Cannes FF Press Materials

    CANNES: American director, scriptwriter and producer Todd Haynes screens in competition with May December a film about a May December romance with a very interesting twist. Haynes is well known for his films about celebrities and showbiz personalities that kicked off with his 1987 film about Karen Carpenter. But it was his 2002 Far From Heaven, which screened in competition in Venice and was nominated for an Academy Award, that really put him on the map. Since then he has spent 40 years looking at famous musicians, gay and gender roles and our dis-functional society.

    His sixth feature film, Carol, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, premiered in competition in Cannes in 2015 where it took the Best Actress prize for its lead Rooney Mara. May December looks set to be another vehicle offering juicy roles for major actresses Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, who play the two leading roles. This is the fourth collaboration for Julianne Moore with Haynes, who has a reputation for working with A-list actresses. Julianne Moore was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for Far From Heaven and Cate Blanchett was nominated for Carol.

    The film is rather a story within a story. Gracie Atherton-Yoo played by Julianne Moore was the main protagonist in a romance between a 36 year old woman and a 13 year old boy Joe Yoo played in adult life by Charles Melton. The two were caught in the sexual act and outed in the community and the press. The result was a tabloid scandal generating huge publicity before that age of MeToo and social media but enough to leave huge scars. But the May December couple survived the experience saying they were truly in love and married.

    The film takes up the story 20 years later when a film is to be made about the now married couple, and to prepare for her role as Gracie in the film Elizabeth played by Natalie Portmann, a famous actress, asks to meet Gracie. The meeting unleashes a wave of questioning for both actresses as they delve into the reasons for the choices they made. Elizabeth also forms a relationship with Joe who, while still marked to Gracie, has started to search out other connections on the internet.

    The screenplay is by Samy Burch and cinematography by Christopher Blauvelt. Haynes has become the most important exponent of the New Queer Cinema movement and he continues to explore gender and sexuality in a subversive and fluid context.

    May December (USA)
    Directed by Todd Haynes
    Cast: Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Charles Melton, Cory Michael Smith, Elizabeth Yu, Gabriel Chung, Piper Curda, D W Moffet, Lawrence Arancio