The 2023 New York Film Festival will kick off with Todd Haynes’ May December, which has been chosen as this year’s opening night selection. The screening on Sept. 29 at Alice Tully Hall will mark the North American premiere of the drama, which debuted back in May at Cannes, positioning it as an awards season play.
“May December is a tour de force of writing, acting, and directing: a film built on moment-to-moment surprise, as thought-provoking as it is purely pleasurable,” NYFF artistic director Dennis Lim said in a statement. “It cements Todd Haynes’ place as one of American cinema’s most brilliant mischief-makers and as an all-time great director of actors. Todd has been a consistent presence at the New York Film Festival for almost his entire career, and we are very excited to open this edition with one of his most dazzling achievements.”
May December stars Natalie Portman as Elizabeth, an actress set to play a Mary Kay Letourneau figure named Gracie in an upcoming film. Elizabeth travels to Georgia to study the real life Gracie, played by Julianne Moore, now married to Joe (Charles Melton), the man she started a sexual relationship with with when he was just a child. Despite their past, Gracie and Joe have constructed a pleasant suburban existence for themselves with their children, but the presence of Elizabeth unsettles that serenity.
Reviewing the film out of Cannes, where it received a six minute standing ovation, THR critic David Rooney wrote that “both leads do transfixing work with characters who constantly reveal different sides of themselves.”
May December landed on the Croisette as a sales title and exited with a deal from Netflix, which will release it in theaters on Nov. 17. It will land on the streaming service Dec. 1.
The 61st New York Film Festival is set to run from Sept. 29-Oct. 15.