May December

May December ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

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Like the box of shit that Natalie Portman's Elizabeth unknowingly clutches upon arrival to this close-knit Savannah community, the latest Todd Haynes film is packed with nasty, sordid surprises while carrying a heavy hazy layer of trauma underneath. Part psychodrama, part academic re-work of a Lifetime true-crime special - all of May December rests on a tonal highwire far above its influences, and there's not a misstep to be found. Portman and Moore fight for control in this tale of abuse and celebrity, but Charles Melton, playing a man frozen in time as a young boy, steals the show in vulnerable, heartbreaking fashion. Three of the greatest performances of the year.

As a whole: intoxicating, deeply upsetting, and funny in ways that contradict the sickly interior of the film's genre boundaries. Also: if it wasn't already the most obvious thing in the world: Haynes fucking loves Douglas Sirk! Me too, Todd. Me too.

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