How Netflix’s May December Explores the Taboo and the Tragic

May December

Netflix’s latest film, May December, is a dark comedy that explores the taboo and the tragic aspects of a relationship between a woman and a boy who is 24 years younger than her. The film, directed by Todd Haynes and starring Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman, is not based on a true story, but it is inspired by a real-life case that shocked the world in the 1990s.

May December

The Inspiration Behind May December

The film takes its inspiration from the case of Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau, who made headlines in 1997 when Letourneau, a Seattle school teacher, was convicted of raping Fualaau, one of her sixth-grade students. Letourneau began having sex with Fualaau in 1996 when she was 34 and he was 12. They had two children together before Fualaau was 15, one of whom was born in prison, where Letourneau was serving a seven-year sentence for violating court orders to stay away from Fualaau. After her release in 2004, Letourneau and Fualaau, by then an adult, fought for and won an overturn of a no-contact order, leading to their marriage in 2005. The couple were married for 14 years until they separated in 2019; Letourneau died in 2020.

The screenwriter of May December, Samy Burch, said at a New York Film Festival screening that she wanted to explore the tabloid culture of the 90s and the true-crime biopic trend of today, and how they relate to the stories of people like Letourneau and Fualaau. “I wanted a fictional story that dealt with this tabloid culture of the ’90s that has kind of seemingly led into this true-crime biopic world we’re in now, and kind of question that transition and why we want to keep recreating these stories,” Burch said.

The Plot and the Characters of May December

May December follows the fictional story of Gracie Atherton-Yoo (Julianne Moore) and her husband, Joe Yoo (Charles Melton), who have a 24-year age gap and met when Gracie was 36 and Joe was a seventh grader working at a pet shop. The couple have three children and are about to become empty nesters when their past comes back to haunt them. Elizabeth Berry (Natalie Portman), a Hollywood actress, arrives in their town to research for her role as Gracie in a film based on the couple’s scandalous relationship. Elizabeth’s presence stirs up old wounds, secrets, and tensions, as she tries to get closer to Gracie and Joe and understand their motivations and feelings.

The film is a dark comedy that balances humor and drama and explores the themes of love, morality, media, and identity. The film also challenges the stereotypes and expectations of gender, race, and age, as Gracie and Joe are white women and an Asian men, respectively, and their relationship defies the norms of society. The film also questions the ethics and the impact of turning real-life stories into entertainment, and how the public perception and the personal reality of the people involved can differ.

The Reception and the Reviews of May December

May December has received mixed reviews from critics and audiences, who praised the performances of the cast, especially Moore and Portman, but criticized the tone and the script of the film. Some reviewers found the film to be witty and provocative, while others found it to be insensitive and shallow. The film has also sparked debates and controversies over its depiction of a controversial and illegal relationship, and whether it glamorizes or criticizes it.

The film has been nominated for several awards, including the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role for Moore. The film is also considered a contender for the Academy Awards, especially for the categories of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

May December is now playing in theaters and will be available to stream on Netflix from December 1.

By Kane Wilson

Kane Wilson, founder of this news website, is a seasoned news editor renowned for his analytical skills and meticulous approach to storytelling. His journey in journalism began as a local reporter, and he quickly climbed the ranks due to his talent for unearthing compelling stories. Kane completed his Master’s degree in Media Studies from Northwestern University and spent several years in broadcast journalism prior to co-founding this platform. His dedication to delivering unbiased news and ability to present complex issues in an easily digestible format make him an influential voice in the industry.

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