“May December” centers on Elizabeth (Portman), a popular television actress who will star in a film about a teacher, Gracie (Moore), who has been imprisoned after being caught with the student. Gracie and the student, Joe (a Charles Melton revealer), were married and had several children. The film opens around the same time that Elizabeth arrives in Gracie’s waterfront hometown, settling into a visit with unintended consequences. In an effort to find the role, Elizabeth tries to learn what makes Gracie tick, but the deeper the actress explores her subject, the more she dwells on the couple’s eternal happiness.
As he has done throughout a career that includes “Far From Heaven” and “Carol”, Haynes uses melodramatic conventions to fascinating effect, though here he does it with jolts of rich humor and destabilizing. Elizabeth may be on the hunt for a character, but Gracie has already found the role of a lifetime as a martyr to her own desires, a role she hones with waves of self-pity and narcissism. monstrous. Playing with shifting tones and modes of realism, Haynes explores the intersection of real life and self-as-performance, regularly rolling out flourishes of dramatic music that might once have accompanied a Joan Crawford meltdown, but have also been rich comic fodder for Carol. burnette.
“May December” would make the double seasonal poster with “L’été dernier”, the latest from the French author Catherine Breillat. A formidable Léa Drucker stars as a seemingly contented, happily married lawyer and mother whose carefully ordered world is shaken to the core by the arrival of her husband’s 17-year-old son (Samuel Kircher). Once the child arrives and takes off his shirt, playing peekaboo under a wreath of loose hair, it seems pretty clear where the story is heading. Yet there is nothing obvious about this film which, with shifting camera angles, different points of view and a gradual escalation of emotional violence, creates an extraordinarily complex investigation into desire and power.
“Last Summer” will likely continue on the international festival circuit in the fall, though it’s unlikely to garner as much attention as some of the most-received feature films here. Among the hottest is “The Zone of Interest,” a soulless formal exercise by British filmmaker Jonathan Glazer. Based on Martin Amis’ novel of the same title, it takes place largely inside the fortified walls of a house immediately adjacent to Auschwitz. There, as columns of smoke rise into the sky, the death camp commandant (Christian Friedel) and his wife (Sandra Hüller) live their lives – eating, raising children, somehow sleeping. another – to the uninterrupted sound of screams, screams and gunshots.