Directed by Todd Haynes (Dark Waters (2019); Poison (1991)) and starring Natalie Portman (Black Swan (2023); Closer (2004); Jackie (2016); Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)), Julianne Moore (Still Alice (2014); The Hours (2002); Children of Men (2006); The Shipping News (2001)) and Charles Melton (Bad Boys for Life (2020); Riverdale (tv series, 2017-2023)).

Drama; 117 mins; 12+

Elizabeth (Natalie Portman) arrives into the Yoo household a few weeks for the film in which she will be starring is shot. The story is based on a scandal in which Gracie (Julianne Moore) and Joe (Charles Melton) were involved when Gracie was 36, Elizabeth's age now. Joe is 22 years her junior, but their children are now about to graduate from high school. They live in a big house by the coast and Gracie bakes for a small number of clients and Joe seems to be interested in protecting butterflies, having worked in a pet store.

The backstory is unravelled gradually, bit by bit, as Elizabeth sees their personalities through the veneer, including the couple's teenage children. She also talks with Gracie's former husband and friend. Elizabeth also studies Gracie, the woman / character she will play, picking up her traits and mannerisms. She tries to unlock some secrets from Gracie's past, but will what she is doing open wounds that some would have preferred stayed closed.

Although it has an intriguing storyline, it is a slow burner, with a music score that raises the tension in expectation that something is about to happen. It is an unsettling character study and there is suspicion that there is something sinister waiting to be unearthed... or can everything be taken at face value? 

Very good performances by both Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore who both portray fascinating characters. 

Currently screening at Ciné Utopia.