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'May December' vs 'All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story'


Remember when there were three Amy Fisher TV movies all airing within a week of each other to major networks in 1993? It was hell to be alive, what with the newspapers, the "investigative" series Hard copyand delicious TV dramas, all reveling in the infamous misfortune of others, from Monica Lewinsky to Menendez brothers. Και μέσα σε αυτή την τρέλα για τις δυσάρεστες κατασ των τελείως αγνώστων ήρθε η ταινία που φτιάχτηκε για την τηλεόραση All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story.

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'May December' review: The Netflix film that comes close to Netflix's true crime

In 1997, Letourneau pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree child rape. the teacher awaited her sentencing when she gave birth to her first (but not last) child with her former sixth-former Willie Fualau. She broke the no-contact portion of her plea agreement and was sent back to prison in 1998, where she gave birth to a second child with Fualaau. She was released from prison in 2004 and less than a year after her no contact order was issued lifted up, Letourneau and Fualaau were married. Although legally separated at the time, Fualaau was by Letourneau's side when she died of cancer in 2020.

The inevitable TV movie arrived on USA Network in 2000, directed by Lloyd Kramer. (Kramer, it should be noted, directed the 2012 biopic where Lindsay Lohan does one of the laziest Elizabeth Taylor impersonations ever recorded.) Starring actress Penelope Ann Miller in the title role, All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story is one of the silliest made-for-TV movies to hit America's headlines.

And with the same theme Oscar nominee by Todd Haynes May December now on Netflix, American girl It's worth checking out, as it's exactly the kind of camp that Haynes is argues that his film is not. All American girlένα τεχνούργημα από το τέλος μιας άλλης εποχής, είναι η πραγματική υπόθεση: η καθαρή, τροφοδοτούμενη από την exaggeration.

All American girl is Mary Kay Letourneau's story turned up to eleven.


Credit: Screenshot / Tubi

All American girl it's simple cable at its most basic: overlit cinema, a sultry Skinemax soundtrack, emotional historical life story. A contemporary retelling of this story centered on the statutory rape of a 13-year-old boy would hopefully exercise some restraint, but All American girl he blissfully falls into the dirt without a second thought.

Παίζοντας το “Θα το κάνουν ή δεν θα το κάνουν;” γωνία, η ταινία απολαμβάνει να πειράζει τον «απαγορευμένο ρομαντισμό» της, κοιτάζοντας με απίστευτη λεπτομέρεια κάθε πινέλο του τος με ανυπομονησία. Πράγματι, προσλαμβάνοντας έναν ελκυστικό 18χρονο ηθοποιό (Ομάρ Ανγκουιάνο) για να παίξει τον 13χρονο Φουαλάου, η ταινία βυθίζεται με το κεφάλι στον βάλτο που ο Χέινς θα σατίριζε αλύπητα δύο δεκαετίες αργότερα. May December. One of the funniest and darkest meta-moments in Haynes' film centers on the predicament of that particular role in the film-within-a-film — namely, when headshots of 13-year-old actors are rejected by a blasé actress. (played by Natalie Portman) because they are not "sexy" enough to play the abused boy.

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Todd Haynes Tells Us How Mary Kay Letourneau Influenced 'May December'

Its most shocking element All American girl it's just how far Letourneau's side can take it. The film is told from her perspective as she narrates the story to a court-ordered psychologist (played by a very competent Mercedes Ruehl), and it never takes a second to second-guess her version of events. The depiction of Fualaau not only makes him visibly larger, but also paints him as the predator. It's like a strangely disturbing gender-bending take on another infamous '90s figure, 17-year-old Amy Fisher, dubbed the "Long Island Lolita" by the media (which somehow massively missed that Nabokov's teenager wasn't the villain of his novel ).

A scene from "All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story."


Credit: Screenshot / Tubi

Early on, Letourneau is portrayed as a loving Christian mother, tucking her children into bed while singing “Jesus Loves You” to them. Meanwhile, across town, Fualaau sets fire to an abandoned shack and then lies to the police about what happened. A later scene portrays Letourneau as unwitting prey when we see the 13-year-old – and his taunting gang of unknown buds – pull up in a convertible front of Letourneau's house, where he makes a crazy bet with them, declaring: I'll take this teacher' .

And yet, in the utterly shameless way of '90s tabloid sensationalism and all its awfulness, All American girl it's a hilarious watch if you can allow yourself to feel the Velveeta it serves up. Since these characters never feel genuine for a moment, it's easy to distance yourself from the real tragedy that sparked it. The narrative structure, with Ruehl's psychiatrist enthusiastically pressuring Letourneau to recount every salacious detail in a dimly lit interrogation room, is straight out of an episode Red Shoe Diaries — if Red shoe diaries he had a very special episode of Hebephilia, that is. Julie Hébert's script and acting is, well, let's be polite and say it's over the top. If you can't find the humor in a dimly lit scene of an enraged horny teenager screaming, "The recess is over!" to his bewildered teacher, then you're probably not looking.

This scene is also a good litmus test for whether or not you'll find the humor in it May Decemberwhich is made to be a wickedly funny and brutal rebuttal to all this All American girl and his ilk represented.

May December turns tabloid sleaze inside out.

Todd Haynes, Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman on the set of "May/December."


Created by François Duhamel / Courtesy of Netflix

May December έχει αλλάξει αρκετά από τις λεπτομέρειες της ιστορίας του Letourneau, επομένως δεν είναι μια αυστηρή επανάληψη. Αυτό περιλαμβάνει τα ονόματα των χαρακτήρων – η Gracie (Julianne Moore) και ο Joe (Charles Melton) είναι οι πληρεξούσιοί μας – καθώς και το αρχικό πλαίσιο της σχέσης τους (συναντήθηκαν δουλεύοντας σε ένα κατάστημα κατοικίδιων όπου εκείνη ήταν το αφεντικό του). Αλλά η ομάδα πίσω από την ταινία, συμπεριλαμβανομένου του σεναριογράφου Samy Burch, ήταν quite forthcoming about where their inspiration came from.

May December is not interested in rehashing the scandal, but focuses on an aspiring actress named Elizabeth (), who dreams of making one All American girl hers. He comes to Savannah to shadow Gracie before casting her in a film that Elizabeth promises will be a truer and more honest portrayal of the case. Haynes means having his pineapple cake and eating it too, here. Not only does it satirize the true-crime craze of the 90s, but also the glitzier, seemingly higher-end offerings of the past decade, such as American Crime Story, Candyand Love and death.

Haynes does this by having each of his female leads represent his "then" and "now" — even the film's title refers to this dichotomy of time. Gracie is the '90s version, selling her baby and wedding photos to tabloid TV while shamelessly leaving a trail of destruction in her wake (including her first marriage and children). Like the tabloids who seized on their story and forgot about it the second another humiliation was in their sights, Gracie's sociopathy is its own blank slate. Meanwhile, Elizabeth sweeps through town pretending to be on top of it all, but ultimately proves to be just as destructive and thoughtless by the end of the film. All in pursuit of a juicy role, a good “story” – a word that, when applied to his situation, brings Melton's Joe to a standstill.

Todd Haynes seeks honesty in gimmicks.

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore "May/December."


Created by François Duhamel / Courtesy of Netflix

While these femme fatales face a darkly comic melodrama, Jo appears as May Decemberbeats and broken heart. Gracie and Elizabeth obsess over getting the surface appearances (hair, makeup, lips) right, while Joe finally begins to see his tortured reality for what it is. When in the middle of an argument he asks Gracie, "Why can't we talk about it – if we're really as in love as we say?" cuts straight to the bitter truth of their relationship: how they were forced to play and play perfection to make up for the original sin in her heart.

With that devastating emotional line that cuts down May Decemberin the center of it, Haynes might be right in arguing that his film is not camp. But that doesn't mean he doesn't use the language of camp to deconstruct his original objects. May December borrows technical cues from those tabloid retellings of yesteryear – grainy, overlit cinematography. a hyper-melodramatic score – and puts them over and over again in the extremely banal. Family dinner, baking a cake and (in the most viral moment of the film) checking the hot dog cooler. And it is there, in the discord of ordinary life, that Haynes discovers his meaning.

Since camp exists in the gap between intention and finished product, May December argues that only objects as ignorant as All American girl or today's faux-prestige vehicles can really be considered as such. And by making the disconnect between the banality of reality and the ways in which we reshape it to seem so exaggerated, Haynes sets our most basic car accident tendencies in stark, direct contrast to the existence of those people who have been run over. . .

At the end of it, May December circles around right back to All American girl.

The movie within a movie "May/December."

The film-within-a-film in “May/December”.
Credit: Screenshot / Netflix

For all Elizabeth's efforts, the film she makes is not some great cinema about a morally gray character. Instead, May December the last scene is shown grabbed straight from All American girl.

We're fancy witnesses to follow after Elizabeth-as-Gracie's re-enactment of Joe's seduction in the pet store. The teenage actor opposite Elizabeth is clearly older and attractive. the lip that Gracie already wields like a weapon has become, in Elizabeth's amateurish hands, even more exaggerated. And to top it off, Elizabeth-as-Gracie does the seduction while petting a giant snake.

If this is happening in a "true story" at the hands of Hollywood, we're right to laugh at it, while the Joes of the world are right to want out of the wheel. The only person who ends the film with anything like real growth is Joe, who is last seen alone, watching his own teenagers graduate from a distance, having an emotional breakdown that seems to signal a deep (and unspoken) surface of some sort. .

Our destructive cycles of voyeurism, epitomized by Gracie and Elizabeth's instant diva showdown on the school football field that immediately follows, can't get him there. He seems to have uncovered an escape, something of his own, while their melodramatic carousel unfolds without him. Through Joe's eyes, we can see the game for exactly what it is — prestige or trash, it has no room for truth.

How to watch: All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story is available to stream on Freevee and Tubi.





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