As the weather continues to get colder and we grab our blankets and light the fires, new drama-filled movies are perfect to put on the television. If you enjoy watching romantic movies that are hiding cracks under the surface, May December might be the perfect movie for you this coming November. Whether you decide to head out to the movie theaters when the movie premiers, or just stream it at home under loads of blankets, check out our article on where to watch May December, and add this drama to your movie list.
Please be advised that this movie and its topic are for mature audiences (rated R).
What Is May December About?
May December shows how a tabloid romance can falter over time, with just the right push from an aspiring actress. Twenty years have passed since the notorious tabloid romance was first exposed and gripped the nation: a teacher and her teenage lover (it feels so wrong to even put that in writing). Against all odds, they stay together and get married even after she was arrested for assaulting her partner.
In the film, Gracie Atherton-Yu (Julianne Moore) and her husband, Joe (twenty-years her junior), are preparing for their twins to graduate from high school. When Hollywood actress Elizabeth Berry (Natalie Portman) comes to spend some time with the family to better understand Gracie and they role she will be playing, some of the family dynamics begin to fray under the renewed pressure of the outside world’s gaze. Joe, who never really processed his childhood, confronts his reality of being an empty-nester at just thirty-six years old. At the same time, he must come to terms with how their relationship began and figure out if he should see himself as a victim after all.
Elizabeth and Gracie, on the other hand, study each other closely and develop a tense relationship the longer Elizabeth stays with them. They seem to have a lot of similarities, but at the same time, it’s clear Elizabeth might only be trying to step foot in her shoes to nail the role. Elizabeth must learn to switch between herself and the character she is creating, especially as she tries to understand such a complicated story.
Set in picturesque Camden, Maine May December is an exploration into truth, storytelling, and the difficulties of fully understanding another person, especially the one that you married.
Notable Cast in May December
There are several famous actors in this feature film, including Piper Curda, Jocelyn Shelfo, Elizabeth Yu, and Cory Michael Smith, but we are going to focus on the three stars of the show – Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton.
You’ve probably seen Natalie Portman in several blockbuster and independent films, so this should be a familiar face as one of the leading roles. Portman has had a prolific film career since her teenage years, receiving multiple accolades, including an Academy Award and two Golden Globe Awards.
Some notable films she has appeared or starred in include Black Swan, V for Vendetta, Closer, Thor (Love and Thunder, The Dark World), and many others.
In May December though, Portman is playing Elizabeth Berry, a Hollywood actress that has been chosen to play Gracie as her younger self in an upcoming film. She decides to go out to Gracie and Joe’s home and shadow her, in order to best portray Gracie on screen. But, her arrival starts to show cracks in the relationship, one that might not be as perfect as it seems.
Julianne Moore is also a star-studded actress, and is of course one of the stars in May December. Her real name is Julie Anne Smith, but she is known professionally as Julianne Moore. She has similarly been prolific in film since the early 1990s, and is particularly known for her portrayals of emotionally troubled women in independent films, as well as her blockbuster roles.
Some notable films that she has appeared or starred in include Far From Heaven, The Kids are Alright, Still Alice, and Dear Evan Hansen, along with countless others.
In May December, Moore plays Gracie Atherton-Yu, one half of the tabloid couple. Atherton-Yu used to be a school teacher, until it was revealed that she was having a relationship with one of her students. Twenty years later she and her student are married, and are about to be empty-nesters as their twins graduate high school. She allows Berry (Portman) to come in and shadow her for an upcoming film, but will not realize until later the eerie similarities and differences they both have.
Though not as star-studded as his female co-stars, Charles Melton still fills some big shoes in this lead role for May December. Melton is an American actor that has starred in a few movies and TV shows, and changed his physical appearance quite a bit to fit his character, specifically gaining around forty pounds to look more like a suburban grown-up than a chiseled actor.
Some notable films and TV shows that Melton has appeared or starred in include Riverdale, The Sun Is Also a Star, and Bad Boys for Life.
In May December, Melton plays Joe who is the student that Atherton-Yu got in a relationship with when she was a teacher. He goes on to marry Atherton-Yu, and have a couple of children with her, and is now having to struggle with being an empty nester at thirty-six. He is also stirred up by Berry’s arrival, and starts to contemplate and comes to terms with everything that happened when he was younger.
Details About May December
If you’re wondering about some of the finer details of May December, then check out our list that includes ratings, reviews, and the genre of the movie.
- Genre: Drama, Romance
- Rating: R (Language, Graphic Nudity, Drug Use, Some Sexual Content)
- Runtime: 1 hr 53 minutes
- Rotten Tomatoes Critics Score: 92%
- IMDb Score: 7.4/10
- Filming Location: Savannah, Georgia
- Director: Todd Haynes
What Does “May December” Mean?
“May December,” also known as the phrase “May December romance,” is a term for a relationship with a wide age gap between the partners. In the saying, “May” represents new beginnings and a youthful spring whereas “December” represents the winter and old age. In order for a relationship to qualify as “May December,” the couple’s age range can be anywhere from ten years apart to fifty. This type of romance applies to Gracie and Joe in the movie as they are twenty years apart, so that’s what the movie title is referencing. There may be other meanings behind the title, but we’ll have to wait for the release to know for sure.
Is May December Based on True Events?
May December is loosely based on the true story of Mary Kay Letourneau, who was an American teacher charged with having a sexual relationship with one of her twelve-year-old students. The film changes the name, so Elizabeth Berry (Portman) is tasked with portraying Letourneau stand-in Gracie Atherton-Yoo (Moore) instead of keeping the original name. It allows the film to stretch beyond the exact truth, and preserves some of the personal details of Letourneau.
Why Is May December Getting Popular?
Since the Cannes Film Festival in May of 2023, this movie release has been getting a ton of press and buzz. Many people are taking to social media to say that they think the entire concept is disturbing and uncomfortable. So, why are so many people ready and waiting to see it in theaters?
May December sparking controversy in the media is not unique, but the concept behind the film is. Most stories that glorify a relationship coming out of assault are not accepted. Most stories about an older person getting involved with a minor would be considered grooming. Most stories about an inappropriate relationship do not look to understand the assaulter. However, this story looks at the psyche of Grace and Joe and explores how human beings can believe entirely unaccepted things. It’s really an interesting case study of human nature.
While you watch this couple explain their relationship, you also watch an actress try to break down the emotions in their story. Natalie Portman shows the acting process on screen to a level that is rarely seen. Her transformation into Grace seems to takeover the movie by the end. Ultimately, I can understand wanting to watch such a fascinating process unfold and see how it affects the real people reliving their memories.
Don’t get me wrong, the concept is entirely uncomfortable. But, I think May December will unpack the darkness, address the trauma, and tell a much bigger story. We’ll all have to wait and see how well it delivers on its purpose, but for now, that’s why I believe it is so popular.
Where to Watch May December?
When Will May December Be in Theaters?
May December will be hitting select theaters near you on November 17, 2023. This gives you plenty of time to schedule a date to the movie theater with a friend, family member, or significant other to watch this drama-filled movie. Check out this link to see if there are any local showings near where you live.
Where to Stream May December
After its initial release on November 17th, viewers will have to wait until December 1st for the film to be available to stream. Once it hits December 1st, you will be able to see Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore’s faces on your Netflix home screen. You will need a subscription in order to watch this movie, so if you don’t have one yet, think about subscribing to Netflix. Starting costs are $6.99 per month with ads, but you can also opt for the premium plan at $22.99.
Other Movies Like May December
Once you finish watching May December, you may be looking for more movies with romantic twists and turns. Check out some of these other movies to continue your drama movie binge:
- The Graduate (1967)
- The Reader (2008)
- American Pie (1999)
- Harold and Maude (1971)
- Twilight (2008)
- American Beauty (1999)
May December is a film that promises to get under your skin and make you rethink all that you knew about relationships and age gaps. It promises to deliver, especially with its compelling story and star-studded cast. If you have time, try to watch this movie in theaters, but if not wait for December 1st and stream it on Netflix from the comfort of your home.