Spoiler alert! The following story contains important details about the ending of “May December” (now available on Netflix).
Is it possible to really know someone?
That is the question that remains at the end of “.”May December‘, the director’s new film that’s bitingly funny and sneakily subversive. tod haynes Sammy Birch made his debut as a screenwriter with “Carol.”
The film stars television star Elizabeth Berry (natalie portman) On the way to Savannah, Georgia following Gracie Atherton Yu (Julianne Moore), she is set to play him in an upcoming film. Decades ago, when she was in her 30s, Gracie was convicted of seducing and raping 13-year-old Joe (charles melton), she later married and started a family. As their grown children prepare to graduate from high school, Joe begins to process his trauma, and Elizabeth tries to understand Gracie, but to no avail.
USA TODAY spoke to Portman and Moore about the film’s ending and that poignant, unbroken monologue.
Natalie Portman says ‘May December’ monologue was ‘a great gift’
Towards the end of the film, when Elizabeth reads an old love letter that Gracie wrote to Joe before their relationship was discovered, Portman delivers a stunning three-minute monologue directly to the camera. In her letter, Gracie acknowledged that “we have crossed a line,” but added, “I think we have now lost sight of where that line is.”
After studying Gracie’s unique lisp and mannerisms countless times, this is the first time Elizabeth fully embodies her subject. She cried while reading the letter alone in her room, and when she finally got to the end she threw her head back with joy and relief.
“It’s a very extraordinary piece of writing,” Portman says. “There are too many lies and omissions of things we don’t say to each other. So it’s a great gift for actresses to be able to have this acting moment as truth. They’re people who are good at acting, so they’re seen and seen.” Those moments alone are so precious in this movie because you can actually feel the character even when he’s not doing it.”
In the letter, Birch said, “Through the lens of Gracie, we finally have some information,” adding, “She is not naive. She is fully aware of the legal ramifications, and throughout the film… But at the same time, through Natalie, we also see an entrance into a very upset woman. It’s not surprising, but it’s still very uncomfortable to watch. .”
Portman shot eight takes of the scene, all of which were “subtly different, but distinctly different,” Haynes says.
“It was a master class in acting. It was just an amazing day,” he recalls. “We shot this on the second to last day of shooting, so she had time to absorb Gracie so much. I wanted to make this movie because of that scene when I read the script.” And that’s exactly how I wanted to shoot it.”
Portman thanked him for saving the monologue for the end of the 23-day shoot.
“I was really lucky,” she says. “Todd created an ideal environment for us to work in, and part of that was filming in chronological order. In this way, we were able to interact with each other in real time. I was able to learn about it and begin to reflect on it.”
Julianne Moore reveals the film’s ending and unanswered questions
In the penultimate scene, the women have their final encounter at Gracie’s children’s graduation. Elizabeth is initially happy with what she learns, but she soon begins to second-guess herself when Gracie asks, “Was this really important to your movie?” Gracie also reveals that her son (Cory Michael Smith) lied to Elizabeth about her mother’s past and that she is less aware of Elizabeth’s girlfriend than before.
“The most important thing for me is, ‘Do you understand me? Do you know me?'” Moore says. “I think for actors, and for all of us, it’s possible to get closer to knowing other people. That’s what’s great and frustrating about being human. You always want to know more. , you’re always trying to get into it. But there’s always a little part of you that’s very mysterious and belongs only to you.”
Suddenly feeling anxious, Elizabeth scrambles to find something “real” on a movie set. Elizabeth, ready as Gracie with her blonde wig and pink lipstick, asks to film yet another take before the screen fades to black.
Reading Gracie’s letter, she said, “Elizabeth will probably have her best moment playing Gracie, but this is probably the best thing she’s ever done: Icarus’ flight too close to the sun.” ” Birch says. “When I saw her on set later, I knew she would never be as confident as she was in that moment alone in her room.”
As for Joe, we last saw him at his children’s graduation ceremonies, where he broke down in tears as he watched from afar. It’s up to viewers to decide whether he leaves Gracie or not.
“This is a movie that asks questions,” Moore says. “What’s great is there are a lot of people who ask, ‘So what do you think is going to happen?’ Is the family together? I can’t answer that. The movie ends with you inhaling, not exhaling. Masu.”
Charles Melton is an early Oscar favorite and the heart of the movie
“May December” is becoming a major awards contender. Portman and Moore (both Oscar winners) were nominated again for their performances, and Birch also won for Best Original Screenplay. Meanwhile, Melton is on track to earn his first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, having won at both the Gotham Awards and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards last week.
Melton, 32, is best known for his role as Reggie Mantle on The CW’s “Riverdale.” Haynes was not familiar with the series, but watched his audition tape and was immediately impressed.
“Joe wasn’t what I imagined on the page,” Haynes says. Compared to other actors who read for the role, “Charles’ interpretation was more pent-up, more literal, more restrained. Before he read the part, I saw a picture of him.” When I saw it, his look was almost distracting. I thought, “I don’t think that’s going to work.” He looks like a model. ” But he did something very exceptional and understood things about Joe that were clearly visible in the audition. ”
“He’s phenomenal,” Haynes continued. “He’s a lot less experienced than Julian or Natalie. Obviously, he’s up against these extraordinarily strong performers. But Charles brings a subtlety and physicality around Joe that is very It’s tangible. It’s a life-like, ephemeral performance. His sweet little heart is beating right before your eyes.”