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Todd Haynes to Direct Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in ‘May December,’ Set for Cannes Market

Haynes muse Moore previously starred for the Oscar-nominated director in "Safe," "Far From Heaven," and "Wonderstruck."

Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman

Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman


Todd Haynes is looking at a busy Cannes. Not only is the filmmaker behind movies including “Carol” and “Far From Heaven” debuting his new documentary, “The Velvet Underground,” out of competition, but he’s also taking a new film to the Cannes market. He is set to reunite with Julianne Moore and direct, for the first time, Natalie Portman in the film “May December.” The screenplay is written by Samy Burch, with a story by Burch and Alex Mechanik. Principal photography is scheduled to commence next year.

The official synopsis for the film suggests the kind of female psychodrama that’s well within Haynes’ wheelhouse: “Twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, Gracie Atherton-Yu and her husband Joe (twenty-three years her junior) brace themselves for their twins to graduate from high school. When Hollywood actress Elizabeth Berry comes to spend time with the family to better understand Gracie, who she will be playing in a film, family dynamics unravel under the pressure of the outside gaze. Joe, never having processed what happened in his youth, starts to confront the reality of life as an empty-nester at 36.”

The film, as the synopsis promises, emerges to be more about the two women. “And as Elizabeth and Gracie study each other, the similarities and differences between the two women begin to ebb and flow. Set in picturesque and comfortable Camden, Maine, ‘May December’ is an exploration of truth, storytelling, and the difficulties (or impossibility) of fully understanding another person.”

“What so appealed to me about Samy Burch’s exceptional script was how it navigated potentially volatile subject matter with a kind of observational patience that allowed the characters in the story to be explored with uncommon subtlety,” said director Todd Haynes in a statement shared with press.

Julianne Moore previously starred for Haynes in films including “Safe,” “Far From Heaven,” and “Wonderstruck.” Haynes won the Queer Palm in 2015 for “Carol,” with star Rooney Mara winning the festival’s Best Actress prize. Previously, he’s shown “Wonderstruck” (2017) and “Velvet Goldmine” (1998) in competition.

Jessica Elbaum and Will Ferrell of Gloria Sanchez Productions and regular Haynes collaborators Christine Vachon (most recently on his last film “Dark Waters”) and Pam Koffler of Killer Films will produce alongside Portman and Sophie Mas under their MountainA banner.

Rocket Science is handling international sales beginning at the Virtual Cannes Market. Haynes’ Velvet Underground doc went to Apple for distribution last fall.

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