On the heels of his $11 million Netflix deal for his film may decemberTodd Haynes stopped by the Deadline studio in Cannes to discuss his feelings on the sale and what went into the making of the film.
“The news of the deal with Netflix was nothing short of remarkable, as such an incredible vote of confidence in their enthusiasm for the film,” Haynes said. “And that emboldened us all by what we just created at Cannes.”
may december follows a scandalous marriage between Gracie (Julianne Moore) and Joe (Charles Melton), who were only 13 when they met some 20 years ago. Referring to real-life couple Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau, Gracie was jailed for seducing the underage teenager, but they later got married and had children together. Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) is an actress who will play Gracie in a film. So she travels to Maine for an insider’s view of the couple, but her presence upsets the balance of the marriage and reveals unresolved issues.
When Haynes first read Samy Burch’s script, he felt “a throbbing unease”, he said. “And that’s what I really wanted to bring to the film itself, in that way that you’re never comfortable with the material, with the feeling that you fully understand the characters, that you change your moral compass as you watch it unfold, but that whole experience is kind of exhilarating to a viewer and has some humor to it.
He added that he wanted the film to be reminiscent of “films that came out of the 60s and 70s that dealt with even very serious subjects with a sense of questioning that was inherently cinematic”.
For this purpose, Haynes used Michel Legrand’s score from the 1971 film Joseph Losey, The middleman, “I saw this film again last year and it was gone, it’s still very hard to get in the States,” he said. “The score is right in front of the film. It’s a very different kind of story, setting and style from our film, but it immediately grabs attention. And that means you wonder about what you’re looking at in that way that was so delicious. And not necessarily always comedic, but it created a constant feeling of reading the story against the grain and letting that be your true experience watching the film. It is true in The middleman and that’s certainly, I think, true of how people talk about watching this movie.
Click above to watch the interview.
The 2023 Cannes Film Festival runs from May 16 to 27. Follow Deadline’s full coverage of affairs and activities on the Croisette here.