Monday, January 22, 2024


Screenplay by Samy Burch

Directed by Todd Haynes

In cinemas from February 1


Reviewed by Len Power 22 January 2024


For those who know the popular Joseph Losey 1971 film, “The Go-Between”, that film’s arresting theme music, composed by Michel Legrand and adapted for this film by Marcelo Zarvos, plays over the main title of the new film “May December”.  It signals a similarity between the themes of both films as they look back at illicit relationships from which psychological damage may remain to this day.

“May December” concerns a couple who had a notorious affair many years ago. She was 34 and jailed for having an affair with a legally underage teenage student. Still together, the couple now seem to live a normal and unexceptional married life with their children. A television actress, who will be playing the woman in a movie about the affair, spends time with the couple to research her role.

A frequent performer in past Todd Haynes films, Julianne Moore plays Gracie, the older married woman, and the actress, Elizabeth, is played by Natalie Portman. Both give highly detailed portraits of these complex women.  At first welcomed by Gracie, the relationship between the two women subtly changes as the movie progresses.

Julianne Moore and Charles Melton

The husband, Joe, well-played by Charles Melton, seems settled and happy in his relationship with Gracie but the questioning by the actress seems to awaken issues long buried in the past.

As in his 2002 film, “Far From Heaven”, a modern day homage to the films of Douglas Sirk, the director, Todd Haynes, has made another compelling, complex film about human relationships that are outside the norm.  As much a comment on the world’s thirst for scandal, our desire for knowledge about these people is voyeuristic. The ending of the film is reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman’s study of two women, “Persona”.

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore

This is a fine film with particularly strong performances from Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman.  Todd Haynes impresses with his tightly disciplined direction and subtle indications that, despite appearances, all may not be well under the surface of relationships.


Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at