‘May December’ director: Women pay higher price than men for breaking rules

May 22, 2023 - 6:06 PM
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The 76th Cannes Film Festival - Press conference for the film "May December" in competition - Cannes, France, May 21, 2023. Director Todd Haynes and cast member Natalie Portman attend. (Reuters/Eric Gaillard)

 Todd Haynes’ new romantic drama “May December” shines a critical spotlight on the way women who break society’s rules are held to much stricter standards than badly behaving men.

In the movie, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday night, Julianne Moore plays a woman whose relationship with a 13-year-old boy drew national tabloid headlines.

“We expect this of men, these transgressions. We don’t of women. And we think ‘what about her family? What about her kids?'” Haynes told Reuters on Sunday. “So the women are also burdened with an extra and unequal amount of criticism when this is the very same thing that can happen with people.”

The couple are still together two decades later when an actor – played by Natalie Portman – inserts herself into their life to prepare for a starring role in the film version of Moore’s story.

Her often boundary-crossing presence dredges up uncomfortable questions that Moore’s husband, played by Charles Melton of “Riverdale”, had never fully considered before.

“There are incredibly problematic aspects to how this relationship began, which this film works toward a confrontation of toward the end,” Haynes told journalists. “Yet this is so complicated by the fact that this relationship endured.”

And the meaning of the title? “It just refers to an older-younger relationship. May and December. And some people in France call it ‘Le Macron'” Haynes said.

—Reporting by Mindy Burrows, Writing by Miranda Murray, Editing by Giles Elgood