HOLLYWOOD—I have seen very few films in the cinematic universe that leave me on the fence, however, “May December” is one that I cannot put my finger on fully. Is it a drama, a dramedy, a dark comedy, a thriller, I could not answer that question for you. What the movie does have going for it is phenomenal performances. Natalie Portman, I have never seen her in a role like this. She is cold; almost ice cold as an actress during research to portray a real-life person for an upcoming movie.

Julianne Moore, what can I say? The woman is a masterclass when it comes to acting and delivers yet again as an emotionally immature woman who isn’t able to cope with reality. There is also “Riverdale” star Charles Melton, who portrays a man reflecting on the mistakes of the past as he is finally forced to unleash the emotions that he has kept bottled up. Melton really delivers with this performance and this movie is going to catapult his roles in the near future.

With that said, you might say, “This movie feels very familiar.” And if that is the case you might say it is ripped from the headlines as it feels similar to the Mary Kay Letourneau story. Does the name ring a bell? She is the teacher who had sex with her student when he was 13, ultimately having a child while she was locked away. Moore portrays Gracie Atherton-Yoo, while Portman takes on the role of Elizabeth Perry. A popular actress who becomes engulfed in Gracie and Joe’s (Melton) lives as she prepares for the role. Berry is a total enigma; she seems nice, but conniving. Dare I say almost sociopathic!

The things this woman does in this movie you don’t quite know what her angle is. Is she attempting to take over this woman’s life? Does she want Joe? Or is she so eager to become that methodical actor that she is willing to go to EXTREME lengths to make it happen? I won’t spoil exactly what Elizabeth does, but you will be shocked by some of the scenes in the flick. There is already a distance between Joe and Gracie when the audience meets them. It feels like a loveless marriage, she is the parent and he is the child, and that’s not simply because of Gracie’s age compared to Joe’s age, but the way they behave. There is a distance between the characters throughout most of the movie, which could have been intentional by director Todd Haynes.

I appreciate Haynes’ work particularly his short flick “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story” which was the focal point of one of my essays as an undergraduate studying film criticism. I could talk about the nuances of that short film for hours people it is so fascinating. I was also a fan of Haynes flick “Carol” and “Far From Heaven,” “May December,” I didn’t hate it, but the narrative is not as tight as I would like it to be.

The story feels too all over the place; there needed to be more connective tissue because the characters we encounter are quite layered and fascinating to watch on the screen, but nothing everything works like a dish you’re cooking. Melton’s Joe might be the most emphatic character in the entire movie, witnessing that scene where he breaks down with his son after smoking a joint was fantastic acting. Moore does a very weird switcheroo with a character that you want to despise and dislike, but you find yourself empathizing yet hating her at the same time.

The audience is witnessing a marriage fall apart, that in truth was already on rocky waters. There are pieces of Gracie’s previous life, but not enough to satisfy you. I mean Gracie and Joe have kids who are about to graduate from college, guess what, Mary, Charlie and Honor have siblings they don’t even interact with, how odd is that!? Perhaps the biggest gripe I have is the music. There is this odd music that plays throughout the entire flick that I could not understand for the life of me.

It gives off the notion that you are watching a thriller or something wicked is about to transpire and that isn’t always the case. The music is to heighten the drama, but for me I found the music to frustrate me as I watched this movie because it served no purpose, but to annoy me as a spectator. “May December” is a movie that you will watch and you will indeed scratch your head. It is interesting enough with strong performances to keep your attention, but it’s not something I can see myself wanting to watch for a second viewing.