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  • Writer's pictureTierney Deanne

May December



Director Todd Haynes brings to life this fictional story roughly based on true events. May December is a term used for relationships with age gaps. May represents spring or youth and December is the end of the year or old age. While this story is fiction it does mirror the real life relationship between Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau. Mary Kay was a 34 year old teacher who started a relationship with her 12 year old student, Vili. At the time when the relationship went public it was all over the news and tabloids, as depicted in this story.


This movie was shot in only twenty-three days. This didn't allow for rehearsals or reshoots. This was a fast paced shoot which could easily cause mistakes and story gaps. It helps to have professional, seasoned actors such as Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore.


Portman plays Elizabeth Berry, an actress arriving in Savannah to study for her next role. She will be playing Gracie (Moore) in a movie about her relationship with Joe (Charles Melton). When Gracie was 36 she was a married mother of three working at a local pet store. Joe was in the same 7th grade class as Gracie's son, Georgie. Gracie took it upon herself to hire Joe at the pet shop. Eventually, Gracie and Joe were caught having sexual relations in the stock room. Gracie went to jail for statutory rape, and had Joe's child while behind bars. Once Gracie was released from prison and Joe was of legal age, the married. They have three children together, giving Gracie a total of six kids. Her oldest children are now adults with kids of their own. Gracie's grandson is the same age as Gracie and Joe's twins.


There is very ominous music which plays over the film when there are filler scenes. I supposed this is to pick up the pace when nothing is really happening. It makes the film feel more intense than it actually is.


Moore has a fake lisp in the film which was an artistic choice made by the actress. It pairs well with how we perceive Gracie as young girl who never properly grew up. She still acts as a sweet and innocent girl, wears bright pink makeup hues, always wears flowing dresses, and acts very fragile. We also witness Gracie being mentally unstable, often having emotional breakdowns over small inconveniences. Her relationship with his classmate has also had an impact on her son, Georgie. He is almost 40 years old now still having childish temper tantrums in public.


To the community members that support the relationship it appears that Gracie and Joe are very happy together. In his time alone however, it is obvious that Joe is getting bored. He has started an emotional relationship with someone that he met online. He is clearly controlled by Gracie, she manipulates him and her children. In the beginning Joe didn't see anything wrong with the relationship. As the time passes, and the kids are approaching graduation and college, Joe starts to see his life more clearly. Joe was also stunted in his maturity. He experiences teenage activities for the first time with his teenage son. He spends his time playing with bugs, monarch butterflies to be exact. He finds the eggs in the wild and raises them in captivity in order to release them as adults so that they can migrate. This is ironically symbolic to his time with Gracie, she caught him as a child and held him in this perfect family persona and now all he wants is to be released to find his own way.


Berry proves to be a method actor as we watch her slowly become Gracie. By the time she leaves to start work on the film, the family is turned upside down.



Available on Netflix
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