17 Jun 2024

May December

Early in Todd Haynes' "May December," a film born from the tabloid obsession of the '90s, Gracie Atherton-Yoo (an excellent Julianne Moore, in her fifth collaboration with the director) prepares for a barbecue with several family friends, including Elizabeth (a phenomenal Natalie Portman), the actress who will play her in a film. She asks her two teenage children to be careful not to fall off the roof, where they often go to escape their parents' curious ears, and heads to the refrigerator. Bombastic music takes over the scene. A look of impending disaster crosses her face. “I don’t think we have enough sausages,” she says out loud. After all, what greater problem could the stereotype of the perfect American housewife have?

However, Gracie is the opposite of this stereotype. The reason Elizabeth will portray her in a Hollywood film is her marriage to Joe (a revelatory Charles Melton), who was only 13 when their relationship began, leading to her imprisonment, where she gave birth to their first child. Yet, that moment is far behind them: despite the hardships, it seems they have built a dream life together. Is the idyll presented to the curious real, or is the house with a pool and warm pies in the oven just a façade? Elizabeth, embodying society's contemporary obsession with the true crime phenomenon and turning tragedies into mere entertainment, intends to find out the truth.

Both funny and terrifying, "May December" is Haynes' least stylized film to date, with the almost suffocating Sirkian style of "Carol" absent, allowing the personal dramas to take on grand dimensions in their moral ambiguity. It’s an intriguing, dizzying psychodrama, and, as Dan Diaconescu might say, sensational. This time, literally!

Screening times:

Monday, June 17, 8:30 PM - Cinema Florin Piersic
Sunday, June 23, 6:30 PM - Students' Culture House