Is the Movie “May December” Based on a True Story?

Is the Movie May December Based on a True Story

May December True Story – If you’ve been caught in the riveting tale of “May December,” you’re likely wondering if this intense drama is rooted in reality. In this exploration, we delve into the question that has intrigued audiences – is “May December” based on a true story? This captivating film, directed by Todd Haynes and featuring the stellar performances of Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, has sparked curiosity about its origins.

“May December” is a 2023 American drama that premiered at the 76th Cannes Film Festival before making its way to select theaters in the United States on November 17, 2023. It’s set to stream on Netflix starting December 1. The film follows the life of Gracie Atherton-Yoo (played by Julianne Moore) and her husband Joe Yoo (Charles Melton), exploring the complexities of their relationship that began under scandalous circumstances.

'May December' Plot Story

‘May December’ Plot Story

At the heart of “May December” is the enigmatic story of Gracie Atherton-Yoo and Joe Yoo. Julianne Moore, delivering a compelling performance as Gracie, takes us through the complexities of a relationship that started in scandalous territory. The film centers around actress Elizabeth Berry, played by Natalie Portman, who immerses herself in the lives of Gracie and Joe to prepare for her role in an upcoming film.

The plot unfolds in Savannah, Georgia, where Gracie, in her 30s, and Joe, in his 20s, navigate the challenges of impending empty-nesting with their three children. What makes this story particularly intriguing is its roots in a controversial beginning – Gracie’s affair with Joe began when he was just a 13-year-old schoolmate.

As Elizabeth delves into their lives, family dynamics come to the forefront. The film artfully explores the couple’s journey, addressing doubts, confronting long-standing issues, and challenging societal perceptions of love and morality. The backdrop of high school graduations and family events adds layers to the narrative, creating a thought-provoking cinematic experience.

True Story Behind the 'May December' Movie

True Story Behind the ‘May December’ Movie

While the creators deny a direct link to real events, the parallels between “May December” and the Mary Kay Letourneau case from the ’90s are hard to ignore. Letourneau, a Seattle school teacher, made headlines for her relationship with a sixth-grade student, Vili Fualaau. Julianne Moore, who plays Gracie, acknowledged drawing inspiration from Letourneau for her performance.

In her own words, Moore stated, “The movie is inspired by that story, so it’s not a depiction. But I did look at it for inspiration and watched some documentary footage and read some about the case, and it’s fascinating.” The film explores the aftermath of such a scandal, posing questions about love, marriage, and societal judgment.


As we navigate the twists and turns of “May December,” the lines between fiction and reality blur. While the film is not a direct retelling of real events, its inspiration from the Mary Kay Letourneau case adds layers of complexity. The cast’s stellar performances, coupled with a thought-provoking storyline, make “May December” a must-watch for those intrigued by the intricacies of human relationships. Whether rooted in reality or crafted for the screen, this film challenges us to reflect on the profound questions surrounding love, morality, and the consequences of our choices.

Also Read: Where is Mary Kay Letourneau’s Ex-Husband Vili Fualaau Now?