Cannes 2023 Questioning the past with May December, from Todd Haynes
Official Selection By Kévin Corbel, festival-cannes.com published on 20.05.2023
Twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, a married couple buckles under the pressure when an actress arrives to do research for a film about their past.
In 2015, Rooney Mara, an actress from Carol alongside Cate Blanchett, left Cannes with a best actress award. For May December, the American director Todd Haynes brings together Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in an introspective romantic drama on the scandalous past of a famous couple.
To prepare for her new role, Elisabeth (Natalie Portman), a famous actress, meets with Gracie (Julianne Moore), who she is going to portray on the screen. Gracie had caused a scandal in the press and captivated the country two decades prior with her relationship with Joe (Charles Melton), 23 years her junior.
With a screenplay from Samy Burch, Todd Haynes questions the choices of two women at two stages of their lives. A painful turn to the past for the old star in her sixties, who wants to turn the page, faced with a sincere and dangerous search for the truth from a Hollywood star at the top of her career. Between the two, the male character of Charles Melton subtly weaves threads between the actresses and the eras.
“May December explores one of the great capacities of the human species: our categorical refusal to look ourselves in the face.”
This duality allows the American director to bring Julianne Moore, in her fourth collaboration with him, into dialogue with Natalie Portman, who had presented A Tale of Love and Darkness Out of Competition in Cannes in 2015, as a director.
It only took 23 days to wrap up shooting on May December, as Todd Haynes indicated in an interview with Hollywood Reporter. A high-speed production for the 11th feature film from the director, winner of the Best Artistic Contribution Award at Cannes with Velvet Goldmine in 1998. On the musical side, Marcelo Zarvos’ compositions alternate with melodies that Michel Legrand first composed for The Go-Between by Joseph Losey.