Throughout May December, graduation (as event, as trope; moving from one degree to the next, successful completion, training) competes with maturation for best overall conceit; each is more than window dressing to the present drama of Elizabeth’s unwelcome investigations. What Todd Haynes builds is less a trick mirror than a kaleidoscope, to refract a thought in all directions.
An illustration of Cillian Murphy's Oppenheimer against a red background.
History, Oppenheimer suggests, is made up of agendas and counter-agendas, narratives and counter-narratives, fictions imposed onto a reality where truth has diminishing relevance if it ever mattered at all. Nolan’s films have always had a double-edged relationship with truth, full of noble lies and spiraling self-delusions, their characters manipulating themselves and each other as much as the reality around them.
I didn’t exactly remember the story about Reality Winner. I recognized her uncanny name and its association with the word whistleblower. Whether I supported or condemned what she’d done had slipped through my memory. This lapse, an automatic deleting, made the story seem as though it may not have held much importance during the onslaught of news in 2017. Maybe the nation’s addled collective memory could stand to forget the answer to this particularly anxious American question: “What the hell happened here?”