Ben Oliver

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May December

Insecure people are very dangerous, aren’t they? I’m secure. Make sure you put that in there.
09 April 2024

An actress (Natalie Portman) arrives in a family home to do some research on a role about a woman (Julianne Moore) who had a baby with a 12 year-old boy (Charles Melton) twenty years back. After her release from prison they had more kids and are still living together.

This is a real tour de force from Portman and Moore, but it’s Charles Melton who quietly steals the show as a 36-year-old man pretty much frozen in time as a child since his traumatic event. He’s the same age as Natalie Portman in the film but it quickly becomes apparent that there’s a gulf between the two in terms of life experience. They do fudge the ages a bit to make it work—in reality Portman is about 10 years older—but it’s plausible enough and hits pretty hard.

Haynes treats this almost like a retelling of a dodgy straight-to-video daytime TV film, blending some over the top campy intrigue and humour with moments of total dead-eye seriousness.

May December never quite goes where you think it’s going and as a result is completely captivating even through all the awkwardness. It’s social car crash TV.