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Working from a flawless script by wife/husband screenwriting team of Samy Burch and Alex Machanik, Haynes deftly allows narrative resonance to expand in the mind of the viewer.
"May December" firmly establishes Todd Haynes as one of America's finest filmmakers. If there was ever any doubt that Todd Haynes is the heir apparent to the likes of Martin Scorsese, here is the proof.
Using the story of convicted pedophile Mary Kay Letourneau as their inspiration, the screenwriters create a complex nesting doll story that addresses American society at its core. The experience is unforgettable, and profound.
Natalie Portman portrays Elizabeth Berry, a B-list (Method) actress tasked with visiting ex-convict Gracie Atherton-Yoo (Julianne Moore) at her home in Savannah, Georgia to prepare for her portrayal of Gracie in an upcoming movie.
Since her release from prison, Gracie has married Joe (Charles Melton), the boy she seduced when she was 36, and he was 13 years-old at the pet store where they both worked. A high school graduation party for the couple's twin girls coincides with Elizabeth's unethical mission of sense memory discovery. Gracie and Elizabeth are both emotional vampires, playing for keeps.
Each leaves behind a traumatic trail of misery in their wake.
What follows is a nuanced study in coldhearted narcissism, where victims continue to be victimized, and opportunists get their hands sticky by association.
Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore equally deliver tour de force performances that match relative newcomer Charles Melton's empathetic portrayal of Joe, this movie's troubled protagonist.
If ever there was, or is, a filmic antidote to the corporate gaslighting garbage that a movie such as "Barbie" represents, "May December" is it.
Prepare to be transformed.
Rated R. 117 mins.