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

NATALIE Portman, Charles Melton, Todd Haynes, Julianne Moore and Cory Michael Smith attends the May December photocall at the 76th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 21, 2023 in Cannes, France. — REUTERS

CANNES — 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?’” Mr. 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 Ms. Moore’s story.

Her often boundary-crossing presence dredges up uncomfortable questions that Ms. 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,” Mr. Haynes told journalists. “Yet this is so complicated by the fact that this relationship endured.”

“Rarely do you get scripts that feature such compelling female characters at their center and two characters at such different ages,” Mr. Haynes told The Hollywood Reporter last week.

Both Ms. Moore and Ms. Portman have won Oscars for best actress, in 2015’s Still Alice and 2011’s Black Swan, respectively.

May December, which was shot in just 23 days, is Ms. Moore’s fifth time working with Mr. Haynes.

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,’” Mr. Haynes said. — Reuters

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