May December

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May December is a 2023 film about a married couple, twenty years after their notorious tabloid romance gripped the nation, who buckles under pressure when an actress arrives to do research for a film about their past.

Directed by Todd Haynes. Written by Samy Burch, based on a story by Samy Burch and Alex Mechanik.


  • [reading Gracie's letter to Joe] My love... after you left tonight, I thought about the kind of life we could have if things were different. If I had been born later, or you long ago. But who knows what we would have been like then. Or where. What tragedies we'd have to face along the way. What bad luck. This is not what I ever would have wanted. But I'm so... grateful that our paths led us to this road, no matter what the cost. I think about you all the time and the feeling I get when we look each other in the eyes. Do you feel that too? I know you don't have much to compare it to, but... let me assure you. It is rare. I've gone my whole life without it. And now that I've found it, I can't imagine going back and pretending. Sometimes I wish we'd never met, or that you didn't get the job in the pet shop at least, because I know that our lives will be forever changed because of this no matter how it all turns out. I know that my husband and my children... I... I know that this will affect them too. My hope is that we can keep our secrets long enough until at least we're in no danger from the law. Maybe by then I'll have enough time to end things cleanly, and to make sure that the children know that I love them. And maybe by then we'll have figured out what to say. When this first started, I didn't know what to think. I knew that we'd crossed a line, and I felt in my heart that we would cross it again. But now I think... I've lost track of where the line is. Who even draws these lines? All I know is that I love you and you love me. And you gave me so much pleasure tonight. I hope I did the same for you. I'll see you Saturday. Please burn this. you know what could happen to me if anyone ever found it. Your Gracie.
  • [During a Q&A for high school students, Elizabeth is asked what it's like to film sex scenes] Well... sometimes it's really mechanical, like a choreographed dance, you know, where the only thing you can focus on is where you're supposed to be, and when. And then sometimes there's real chemistry between two people and you start feeling like it's real. In a strange way. You'd never admit it to one another, but you're wearing practically nothing and you're rubbing up against each other... [whispering] and sweating... [normal speech] and it's for hours... and you start losing the line, of like, am I pretending that I'm experiencing pleasure, or am I... Am I pretending that I'm not experiencing pleasure? And the whole crew, they're almost always all men. You feel them watching. And you feel them, like... [deep breath] ...holding their breath. [whispering] And they try and hide it when they swallow. [sighs, normal speech] You give into the rhythm, you know, every time. Tension never breaks.


  • Insecure people are very dangerous, aren't they? I'm secure. Make sure you put that in there.
  • Well, I'm not gonna cross-examine you, say what you wanna say.
  • Honor, I got you that scale, as I told you at the time, as a tradition, because that's what my mother got me when I graduated from high school. You try going through life without a scale. See how that goes.

Joe Yoo[edit]

  • [to his son] God, I can't tell if we're connecting, or if I'm creating a bad memory for you in real time, but I can't help it.


Gracie: My brother Mark, he still lives in Richmond. He always says, "Keep your expectations low, and you'll never be disappointed." And I always forget that.
Elizabeth: How many brothers do you have?
Gracie: Four. Two older. Two younger. But I think you know that.
Elizabeth: So... what were your expectations?
Gracie: Uh, that tonight would go well. That my children would love me. And my life would be perfect.
Elizabeth: That was a little naive.
Gracie: I am naive. I always have been. In a way, it's been a gift.

Gracie: What's making you feel bad?
Joe Yoo: It's not... I don't feel bad, like... I'm just trying to say... [swallows] What if I wasn't ready to be making those kinds of decisions? Then... then what? Because the kids. What would that mean?
Gracie: I don't understand what you're saying.
Joe Yoo: I'm saying, what if I was too young?
Gracie: Well... [starts to tear up, scoffs] You seduced me.
Joe Yoo: But I was 13 years old.
Gracie: Don't give me that.
Joe Yoo: But I was.
Gracie: I don't care how old you were. Who was in charge?
Joe Yoo: What?
Gracie: Who was the boss? Who was in charge? Who was in charge?

Elizabeth: [reading Joe's card to Gracie from when they met] "Peace is sitting on a lake in the summertime. Peace is a Coca-Cola on a hot summer day. Peace is being with you."
Gracie: The assignment was "What is peace?"

Gracie: It's my understanding that the movie takes place between 1992 and 1994, am I wrong? So why would you need to know anything that happened after that?
Elizabeth: Well, there are things that exist inside people that don't necessarily come to a head until later, and I try and look for the seeds of those things.

Elizabeth: [kisses Joe] You're so young. Believe me. You could start over.
Joe Yoo: And do what?
Elizabeth: Anything.

Gracie: I thought you were taller. You look taller on television, but we're basically the same size.
Elizabeth: We're basically the same.

[Joe finds Gracie sobbing in bed]
Joe Yoo: What happened?
Gracie: [sniffling] Joyce in Mercer called and cancelled her order, and all future orders.
Joe Yoo: [sighs] I'm sorry.
Gracie: And I told her that I'd already made it, and she said that she would pay for it, but that she didn't need it. They were leaving town.
Joe Yoo: Where are they going?
Gracie: Her sister is sick or something. [angrily] It doesn't matter. I wasted hours that I could have used.
Joe Yoo: You couldn't have known, Gracie.
Gracie: [sniffles] I just... I hate things like that. [sobbing] And now I have this cake that's going to go right in the garbage.
Joe Yoo: You don't have to throw it in the garbage.
[Gracie sobs as Joe comforts her]

Elizabeth: Why did you marry a man like Tom?
Gracie: I was young, and he seemed perfect on paper. It was a different time. My father used to say, "You're either leaving this house in a veil, or in a box."

Elizabeth: [acting as Gracie] Are you scared?
Young Actor: [as Joe] No.
Elizabeth: [whispering] It's okay to be scared.
Young Actor: I'm not.
Elizabeth: She won't bite.
Young Actor: How do you know?
Elizabeth: [in soft sultry voice] She's not that kind of snake.
Director: Beautiful. I think we got it.
Elizabeth: Wait, can we... Can we do it again, please? Please? Just for me.
Man 2: Lizzie...
Elizabeth: Please. Please. Wait, it's getting more real.

Kimme: Uh, how... How do you choose your roles?
Elizabeth: Hmm. Well, when I'm lucky enough to choose my roles, I... I wanna find... a character that's... That's difficult to... to, on the surface, understand. I want... I want to take the person, and figure out why are they like this. Were they born, or were they made? And then that can run the gamut from the more notorious to the... Just anyone.
Mary Atherton-Yoo: Why would you want to play someone who you think is a bad person?
Elizabeth: Are you kidding? I mean, pick any great role. Medea or Hedda Gabbler, or...
Cameron: Tony Soprano.
[scattered chuckling]
Elizabeth: Precisely... Cameron. It's the complexity. It's the moral grey areas that are interesting, right?


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