(CTN News) – In the Netflix drama “May December” directed by Todd Haynes, a famous actress visits the subject of a scandalous tabloid sex scandal that occurred decades ago.
Julianne Moore portrays Gracie Atherton-Yoo, who was 36 years old when she was involved in a sexual relationship with Joe, a 13-year-old boy who worked with her at a pet store. Despite the controversy, Gracie and Joe decided to build a life together, and now Joe (played by Charles Melton) is the same age Gracie was when they first met.
They have three children together, with the youngest about to graduate high school, and they have settled into a peaceful suburban existence.
However, their tranquility is disrupted when May December Elizabeth Berry (played by Natalie Portman) arrives at their waterfront home to study Gracie’s life and potentially stir up trouble.
The film’s storyline may seem familiar as it draws inspiration from the Mary Kay Letourneau scandal that made headlines in the late 1990s.
Letourneau, a 34-year-old teacher, engaged in a sexual relationship with her 12-year-old student, Vili Fualaau. She was arrested after a nine-month affair and later pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree child rape. While awaiting sentencing, Letourneau gave birth to Fualaau’s first child in May December 1997 and had a second child with him in 1998 while serving a 7.5-year jail sentence.
In 2005, Letourneau and Fualaau got married when he was 21, and they remained married until 2019. Sadly, Letourneau passed away a year later at the age of 58 due to cancer.
The scandal led to a TV movie on the USA Network in 2000, featuring Penelope Ann Miller as Letourneau and Omar Anguiano as Fualaau. Letourneau collaborated with the producers and spoke with Miller to provide insights into the role.
When directing “May December,” Haynes initially tried to disregard the similarities between the film and the real-life scandal but ultimately found it impossible to ignore them.
Haynes argues that Letourneau and Gracie were distinct individuals, but he acknowledges the value of Letourneau’s specific traits, such as their voices. Gracie has a noticeable lisp that varies throughout the movie, while Letourneau possesses a relaxed manner of speaking, which is the root cause of her lisp.
In the film, Gracie is depicted as “unapologetic” and confident in her life choices. Letourneau also adopts a similar facade, expressing in a 2018 A&E Network biography special that she is not sorry for her relationship with her husband and the father of her children.
The relationship between the older and younger children in “May December” mirrors Letourneau’s own life. Gracie, the main character, has children from two marriages, resulting in a significant age gap between her older and younger children.
This age difference leads to an uncomfortable encounter between them at a restaurant. Similarly, Letourneau had children from two marriages, with a 12-year age gap between her youngest child and oldest grandchild.
In a 2018 special, Letourneau mentioned that her older children have gotten to know Vili and have always known her, although they now have their own lives. “May December” is currently available for streaming on Netflix.