Stop me if you think you've heard this one before: A middle aged woman becomes sexually involved with an underage student. The illicit relationship is discovered, and the ensuing tabloid scandal grips the nation. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Todd Haynes' latest melodrama, May December, picks up 20 years after the headlines.
The auteur's longtime muse, Oscar winner Julianne Moore, stars as Gracie Atherton-Yoo, who was 36 when she began an affair with 13-year-old Joe. Decades later, she and Joe (played by Charles Melton) are married, following Gracie's release from prison, and preparing to send their youngest children off to college. But the couple's quiet life is put back under the microscope when an actress, Elizabeth Berry (played by Oscar winner Natalie Portman), arrives to do research for a film in which she'll be playing Gracie.
Haynes, who earned a Best Original Screenplay nomination for 2002's Moore-starrer Far From Heaven, directs from a screenplay by Samy Burch. In his director's statement, Haynes says what appealed to him about the script was how Burch "navigated potentially volatile subject matter with a kind of observational patience that allowed the characters in the story to be explored with uncommon subtlety."
"The film's remarkable script and lead performances... and all of the beauty and nuance provided by my creative partners, have restored what I believe is still possible in cinema: to find identification in the least likely places, and be compelled and surprised by a story and its characters without ever being entirely comfortable with who is right or wrong," he added.
Following its premiere at this year's Cannes Film Festival, May December will serve as the Opening Night selection of the 61st New York Film Festival before opening in select theaters on Nov. 17 and streaming on Netflix starting Dec. 1. Watch the trailer below.