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MAY DECEMBER

"Sordid Story"

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What You Need To Know:

MAY DECEMBER is a drama based loosely on the notorious case of Mary Kay Letourneau. Mary Kay was a 36-year-old teacher, wife and mother who seduced a 12-year-old student into an affair that eventually became a twisted marriage. The movie tells a similar, fictional story about an older woman, Gracie, and her much younger husband, Joe. Eighteen years after Gracie became pregnant with twins while in prison, she and Joe are still married. Gracie mistakenly lets a warped, narcissistic actress making a movie about their lives get close to them. The actress turns out to be a despicable human being who brings out the worst in the older woman and her young husband.

MAY DECEMBER is well written, with superb performances, but the story it tells is rather despicable. Although the movie shows the devastating mental and emotional consequences the twisted marital relationship has had on the younger husband, it also depicts lots of manipulation, sexual tensions and duplicity. MAY DECEMBER also has some strong foul language, excessive sexual content and nudity, and a scene of marijuana use by a father and son.

Content:

(PaPaPa, B, Ho, LL, SSS, NNN, A, DD, M)

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Very strong pagan worldview about a sociopathic, narcissistic actress who doesn’t care if she destroys an already twisted marriage just to get the insights she needs to produce a great performance in a TV movie about the couple’s life, with lots of manipulation, sexual tensions, and duplicity, with some light moral elements where the movie shows the devastating mental and emotional consequences the twisted marital relationship has had on the husband, plus there’s an implied scene of lesbian lust between a married woman and an unmarried woman, but nothing is consummated

Foul Language:
12 obscenities (including seven “f” words), four Jesus profanities, seven light profanities

Violence:
No violence

Sex:
extreme sexual content overall includes a graphic scene of depicted adulterous sex between a married man and an unmarried woman with the clothed woman’s legs spread apart, and the man on top of her, the man smiles very happily afterwards, a manipulative actress gives an erotically charged answer to a group of high school students who asked her what it’s like filming a sex scene, the movie’s plot centers around a now-married couple who started fornicating when the man was a 12-year-old boy and the woman was a 36-year-old wife of another man and mother of his family. here is a long scene with unspoken but seemingly lesbian sexual tension between two women as one applies makeup slowly and gently to the other’s lips and face, woman fantasizes about a sexual encounter between two other people (the fantasy is not shown, but it’s obvious by her panting and writhing that she’s pleasuring herself while engaging in these illicit sexual thoughts), woman nonchalantly starts reading a secret letter that a married man’s now-wife wrote to him when she was having a sexual relationship as a child, woman’s adult son tells another woman she started sex with her older brothers when she was 12

Nudity:
A married man’s bare buttocks are seen as he engages in adulterous sex while atop a woman, and his shadowed genitals are clearly seen from above when he stands up

Alcohol Use:
Casual drinking is seen in a couple of situations

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Some smoking, and 17-year-old

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Actress lies and manipulates her way into the home of a couple with a twisted marital relationship under the guise of doing research in order to perfectly play the wife in a TV movie about the couple, the actress obsessively studies the wife and engages in lots of intimate conversations with the husband and eventually seducing him into adulterous sex, the wife was a 36-year-old married mother when she began her relationship with her now-husband when he was just a 12-year-old boy, and 18 years later she still treats him like a child and manipulates him emotionally, the wife manipulates the actress mentally, the wife also manipulates her husband with childish crying fits to get what she wants.

More Detail:

MAY DECEMBER is based loosely on the notorious case of Mary Kay Letourneau, a wife and mother in her 30s who seduced a 12-year-old boy into an affair that eventually became a twisted marriage, with a fictional story about the older woman and her younger husband who mistakenly let a warped, narcissistic actress making a movie about their lives get close to them. MAY DECEMBER is well-made but has a strong Pagan worldview in which people manipulate each other throughout and warped sexual relationships are the norm.

The movie opens with TV-star actress Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) arriving in a small town to meet and stay with Gracie (Julianne Moore) and Joe (Charles Melton, in an Oscar-worthy performance). Grace and Joe have been married for nearly 20 years, but their relationship began in a corrupt and twisted fashion when Grace seduced Joe when he was just 12 years old, and she gave birth to a resulting child while in prison for that sex offense.

Gracie has manipulated Joe for that entire time, luring him into a marriage in which she still treats him like a child. He has never taken on a job and spends his days listlessly bored and subjecting himself to whatever she asks him to do – but has a secret texting relationship with an unseen woman.

Elizabeth wants to immerse herself in their world because she’s been cast to play Gracie in a feature film about the nationally notorious relationship and is a Method actor who believes in fully living the experience of the characters she portrays. She starts mimicking Gracie and inserting herself in nearly every aspect of her life, seeming nice on the surface but shown to be wickedly enjoying the process privately.

When Elizabeth starts going on long walks and talks with Joe, a budding attraction forms, and soon she’s manipulating his very fragile emotions. As she also meets Gracie’s first husband and set of children from her first marriage, things get even more tense and weird.

How far will Elizabeth go to get the “research” she needs to play the role perfectly? How badly will her schemes affect Gracie and Joe’s marriage? Can Gracie find a way to turn the tables on Elizabeth?

These are questions that are disturbing, yet undeniably fascinating to watch in the hands of emotionally brilliant direction by Todd Haynes, who has specialized in movies about illicit relationships, usually with a homosexual element (FAR FROM HEAVEN, CAROL). Here, there is no direct connection to homosexuality, although a scene where Gracie slowly applies makeup to Elizabeth’s face and lips seems to have a sexual tension under the surface that is not acted upon.

The central marriage between Gracie and Joe is twisted and morally corrupt on Gracie’s part and plays tragically off Joe’s naivete where he has remained emotionally stuck at age 12 throughout their 20 year relationship. However, Charles Melton’s deeply layered portrait of Joe shows that, even though Joe has stayed in the manipulative and controlling relationship with Gracie, the marriage has had dire consequences on his inner self.

MAY DECEMBER correctly reveals the marriage to be built on great wrongs by Gracie, it is Elizabeth’s actions that are even more corrupt. Her inserting herself into the lives of this tragic couple is shown as insidious and ultimately warped in the extreme. However, in a great final twist, her “research” turns against her.

MAY DECEMBER’s fascinating script by Sammy Burch takes viewers on a slow-burning psychological rollercoaster ride that sometimes feels like an homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, where two men engage in a manipulative scheme to get ahead through murder. (There is no murder in this MAY, though). All three lead performances in MAY DECEMBER have award potential, with Melton in a potentially star-making turn after his six years as a supporting actor in the popular TV series RIVERDALE.

MAY DECEMBER doesn’t have as many obscenities and profanities as other R-rated movies, but it has excessive sex and nudity. There’s also a scene where the father and his teenage son smoke marijuana together.

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4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.