Don’t let her age fool you. May December screenwriter Samy Burch may seem young to have a masterful screenplay under her belt but it makes sense when you know she is a ’90s baby. At the heart of the Todd Haynes-directed film (now playing in theaters and on Netflix Dec. 1) is a scandal that resembles the Mary Kay Letourneau case. Played by Julianne Moore and Charles Melton, Burch has us meet this seemingly perfect couple twenty years post-scandal when a famous up-and-coming actress (Natalie Portman) comes to study them for a part.
Though Burch says she was aware of the Letourneau case growing up, the seed for May December was not planted through the effects of ’90s tabloid culture but through the exploration of Charles Melton’s character. What happens to a man four years away from 40 who is already an empty nester? What becomes of someone without an individual identity who hasn’t processed their life’s trauma? For Burch, the satire, humor, melodrama, and other characters came after.
Her writing has a biting naturalism, telling us everything we need to know about all her characters through everyday dialogue. I asked her about this and more the day after her appearance at the Middleburg Film Festival.
Watch my interview below and catch May December in theaters and on Netflix Dec. 1.