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Julianne Moore (left) and Natalie Portman (right) in 'May December'.

Picture by: Francois Duhamel | Netflix

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She is your mirror, and both of you will mirror our reality: May December review

Anatolii Mishustin in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Rating: filled star filled star filled star filled star empty star

The story follows Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) an actress offered the role of Gracie (Julianne Moore) in a film recreation of Gracie’s scandalous tabloid affair with a 13 year-old Joe (Charles Melton).

To better play the role Elizabeth goes to study Gracie in the field and observe her day-to-day life with her now husband Joe, who is now of the same age Gracie was when they met.

It’s eerie and tender Hayne’s directing and Marcelo Zero’s score create a space in which you as a viewer loop in-and-out of the story and between the characters. There is a continuous back and forth relationship between chemistry and tensions. It’s omnipresent. And especially that character study, figurative and factual, is the most gripping part of the film.

And don’t get me wrong, the story deserves all of the flowers taking its name from an expression used to describe a relationship between old and young partners. It’s a carefully crafted drama about sexual abuse and the marginalisation of trauma which are hard topics to execute well.

The story makes sure to lure the viewer into the sense of a safe environment only to deliver sickening gut punches that will make you question what you were watching the whole time and whether you should’ve enjoyed it at all.


What I found were the most masterfully crafted parts of the film was the performances themselves. Performances that are very dependent and expressed through body language.

Portmans and Moores chemistry is unmatched as one mimics the other and by the end of it they behave in a cat-and-mouse manner. Natalie’s portrayal of a meta actor is quite interesting and to witness her transformation is mind-googling.

Moore goes all out in her portrayal of Gracie and conveying that neurotic and controlling behavior that is evident to abusers. But I have to give my flowers to Charles Melton for his portrayal of Joe. He’s a frozen in time boy in an adult body and the moments he confronts Moore, or has to see his kids graduate are soul crushing to say the least.

May December is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It lures you in with calm dialogues and an environment of the American dream while gradually presenting you with puzzle pieces so by the end of the film when everything falls into place the only lingering feeling is horror.

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Anatolii Mishustin

Film critic

Kyiv, Ukraine | Amsterdam, Netherlands

Hailing from Ukraine, Anatolii was born in 2006 and now resides in Amsterdam while getting his diploma. Moving to the Netherlands was a decision first and foremost motivated by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Anatolii keeps his hand on the pulse of modern media and underground culture, that’s what grows his interests and ambitions each day. He joined Harbingers’ Magazine in 2023 to challenge himself in this area to explore cultural journalism, and quickly established himself as the lead film critic for the magazine.

His work also secured him an invitation to the first edition of the Harbinger Fellow programme with the Oxford School for the Future of Journalism.

In his free time, he enjoys basketball, watching films, and playing video games.

Anatolii speaks Ukrainian, Russian, English, and is learning Dutch.


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