May December: How was the movie with Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore? – Cinema News

“May December”, Todd Haynes’ 10th feature film, is released in France this Wednesday after competing at Cannes. Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman play the lead roles. We met its director, Todd Haynes.

What is this about?

To prepare for her new role, a famous actress comes to meet the woman she will play on screen, whose love life ignited the newspapers and enthralled the nation 20 years ago.

He is one of the biggest names in American independent cinema, the director of films that have become iconic such as Velvet Goldmine, Far from Paradise, and Carol…

Todd Haynes, who last May had the honor of a major retrospective at the Center Pompidou, on the occasion of which he gave us a long interview, is in the news once again with the May-December release in competition at Cannes 2023. The filmmaker gave an interview to Alyoshain.


Todd Haynes on Deauville’s board

AlloCiné: May December is interesting in relation to the question of the gaze. There is conflict and inconsistency in thoughts. This has a definite impact on the way you present this story. Can you tell us about it?

Todd Haynes: It was about finding a voice through the camera and capturing in a film what I felt while reading that script. There was something, a little distance, in that scenario where you question what you think you know.

It’s the character of Elizabeth Berry (Natalie Portman), she is the one who will allow me to enter this story. We say to ourselves: I can trust him. And then, we say to ourselves, I’m not sure I can trust him. So you keep changing your level of trust and investment in one character versus another, your moral structure. The assumptions you bring up in terms of ethical behavior are wrong, unbalanced… and that’s the scenario I like (Casting director Sammy Burch signs his first feature film script, editor’s note, here.), It has wit and a kind of biting humor.

In the film, we have this privileged position of observer

Then I wondered whether the camera had not also taken up a place in the landscape, at a short distance from the action, and which we were feeling in the position of the observer. And so mirrors and mirror scenes became a very important theme throughout the film. Because you are watching an actress looking at herself in the mirror, and trying to match what she sees in the picture or the actual subject next to her in the mirror.

And you were able to observe the relay of Natalie’s (Portman) gaze that looks into the lens as if it were her own. So she looks at Julianne (Moore) through the lens. Julianne looks at the camera as if it were herself and looks out of the lens at Natalie.

May December Productions 2022 LLC

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore

So there was this constant ricochet of pretense that we, the audience, could see. We have this privileged position of observer, but we are also on the outside. So this is largely driven by the direct address of long lasting, restrained cameras and lenses.

Did you get a chance to meet Mary Kay Letourneau, who the film is inspired by?

No. We maintained a creative distance from this story. Mary Kay Letourneau died before the film could begin shooting. When I first read the script, it reminded me vividly of Mary Kay Letourneau’s story. But I loved what Sammy Burch added to differentiate it from the original story. I was very interested in the idea of ​​trying to harness the differences between the two.

We maintained creative distance from Mary Kay Letourneau’s story

Sammy (Burch) initially began the script based on Camden, Maine, in the northeastern United States. When we finally got a normal shooting schedule with the actresses, in the fall of 2022, it was too cold to shoot in Camden, Maine, especially in May. The film is scheduled to premiere in May. We started thinking about Savannah. This place became more and more interesting, strange and special for us. It also allowed us to distance ourselves from Mary Kay Letourneau’s story.

I would also like to discuss with you a contemporary topic, which is Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is considered a threat to the future of artists, screenwriters as well as actors, and which is the subject of the long-running strike. Has been one of the reasons. Hollywood. What is your position on this topic?

I personally am not shocked by the anxiety caused by AI. Because I’m very hopeful about how it can help science and medical research for example. I don’t see it as a direct threat to creation, to creative minds. I don’t think a computer will be able to replace the creative process that easily. Creation exists through mistakes and chaos. These are things that computers cannot create.

If there was a formula for making the perfect money-making blockbuster, Hollywood would have done it by now

Hollywood, since its inception in the 1910s and the advent of talkies, has always tried to make great films. If there was a formula for making the perfect money-making blockbuster, he would have created it by now. It doesn’t work that way. you can not do it. All this happens by chance.

Another topic I would like to discuss with you is…Barbie! You made a little-known film with Barbies, and it was the first…

The reason the film hasn’t been seen is that it was banned because we didn’t have the rights to the music of the film, the Carpenters’ songs. The film cannot be released legally. But it gave Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story a somewhat underground aura and value.

To see it, you’ll have to stream VHS copies under cover

To see it, you have to hide under the counter while passing around VHS copies. This gave rise to the superstar myth. Obviously that wasn’t my intention, but it contributed something personal and individual to the film. This gave it the status of a cult.

This is a film that in many ways really marks the beginning of my career. It covers all the topics that I continue to explore today, and with this one all in one film.

It’s about a heroine, it’s about someone suffering from a serious illness, it’s about celebrity and pop culture. It’s about music, success and how hard it can be, especially when you’re a woman. And there is a stylistic approach in the way the story is told that makes this film different from other biopics. In many ways, it ties together a lot of the things I’m doing today, and all in one film.

Comments collected in Paris on September 12, 2023

may decemberThe film, Todd Haynes’ 10th feature film, was released in France on January 24. Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman and Charles Melton star in the lead roles. To prepare for her new role, a famous actress comes to meet the woman she will play on screen, whose love life ignited the newspapers and enthralled the nation 20 years ago.

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