January 13, 2024

May December

May December is a Netflix movie with some star power. Julianne Moore plays a woman inspired by the real-life Mary Kay Letourneau… the teacher from the 90’s who had a sexual relationship with a 7th grade boy. This movie imagines that all that happened 20 some years ago, like it actually did, and now a movie is being made about this family. The star of that movie is played by Natalie Portman. She has been allowed to come and stay with the family for a little while in order to accurately portray the character.

I didn’t love this movie as I watched it. It is strange. The tone is all over the place. It starts off with a family picnic. Suspenseful music plays as they wonder if they are grilling enough hot dogs. There were times when everything felt very silly, which seemed odd considering the subject matter. However, this film stuck with me. I have thought about it quite a bit since watching it. I have even considered watching it a second time to see how I feel upon a rewatch.

There is a lot going on. There are strange layers as we watch an actress playing an actress who is preparing for a role by watching another actress play a character. Both of these women are problematic. That whole dynamic is too much for me to process, especially considering what happens over the course of the film.

The reality of this story is that it all started with child abuse. The most interesting thing about the movie is the representation of this boy turning into a man, and what that would be like. A man who still lives with his abuser. That is a compelling story. It is interesting to consider. It is sad, but it is interesting.

I don’t know anything about the actual guy who was seduced by his 36 year old teacher as a 12 year old kid. I do know him and Mary Kay had kids and ended up marrying after her prison sentence. I doubt this movie is an accurate depiction of his story. I wonder how he feels about “May December”.

In the movie he is presented as not having much agency. He missed out on his childhood, and it would appear has had much of his life dictated to him. His maturity has been stunted in some way. He is able to function as an adult, but it doesn’t feel like he would know what to do if he were on his own. He is codependent. What must it have been like to be a father as a 16 year old? What was his mindset after being seduced by an older woman, and then having his life controlled by her? For me, the movie brought up a lot of questions for this guy. He is played as a tragic character. That aspect of the movie really stuck out to me.

Even though he was the most interesting character to me, the film focuses mostly on Natalie Portman’s character. There was some sort of commentary on the vampiric nature of actors. That is the stuff that I had a really difficult time processing on the first watch, and would be the reason I would want to watch this again. There is more to be wrought from the story, however unpleasant it may be.

“May December” is well made and extremely well acted. It feels like there is artistry at play. However, I need somebody to tell me what it was all for.

After watching the movie I became more interested in the real-life story that inspired it. It led me to this bizarre interview with Mary Kay Letourneau and it made everything worse. What a strange world we live in.

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