There really aren't enough romantic movies about older people. I mean, really thoughtful movies that make you consider another perspective – they're few and far between. Rarely do you even find a youthful starlet or hero falling in love with someone older. The very fact that there are so few romantic movies about older people simply upholds the stereotype that Hollywood really doesn't have any use for you once you're over 40, maybe 45. I think that's ridiculous, so I found some exceptions to the rule.
1. Hope Springs
Hope Springs quickly became one of my favorite romantic movies about older people. In fact, the dynamic between Meryl Streep and the charmingly cantankerous Tommy Lee Jones originally inspired the topic of this post. I know this movie resonated with a number of older couples, including my in-laws. Sometimes the spark just … dies down, but that doesn't mean your marriage or relationship is a lost cause. You just have to work for it and fight for those breakthroughs. I think a lot of older couples go through this, especially when you've been together so long. Did anything in this movie hit home for you?
2. As Good as It Gets
Jack Nicholson often plays in movies that revolve around romances between older people – or, say, one older person and one younger one. In this case, Melvin develops feelings for Carol, a younger waitress, but Jack's not quite as lecherous as he could have been, if you know what I mean. I think this movie highlights a tendency, especially among older, single men, to become set in their ways, if not outright antisocial. But sometimes all you need is a little push to get out of that rut.
3. Something's Gotta Give
Jack's back! I love this movie because it flips things around. Harry likes younger women, Erica ends up with the handsome young doctor, and then everything gets turned upside down. Do you know what I love best about this movie, though? Diane Keaton's confidence, her comfort in her own skin. And I'm sorry, but that woman has an outrageous body.
4. Away from Her
This movie isn't quite as well known, but it's simply beautiful. I love Sarah Polley as both an actress and a director, and this marked her debut in the latter category. She has a really magical touch behind the camera, and this tale, which depicts a relationship between Grant and Fiona, is especially poignant. Their relationship is not just touched but deeply impacted by Alzheimer's, which leads to an unexpected transition. The performances by Julie Christie and Olympia Dukakis (whom I'd like to be when I grow up) are really special.
5. Last Chance Harvey
I love me some Dustin Hoffman, and given the fact that he was 71 when he made this, I think he'd still give Mrs. Robinson palpitations. He's wonderful alongside Emma Thompson as Kate. The movie and their performances in it make it clear that you don't stop being spontaneous or feeling lust, excitement, and butterflies just because you get older.
6. Grumpy Old Men
In fact, excitement doesn't have a clock. Even if you're a grumpy old man, you can still feel really passionate attraction. I love this movie and its fabulous sequel for a number of reasons, but I also think it emphasizes how important it is to stay active when you're older. I don't just mean getting exercise, I mean engaging with people, making new friends, and having people to talk to about anything.
7. Harold and Maude
This is like the quintessential May/December romance. It might seem a little weird if you haven't seen it. Harold is presumably 20 or so, while Ruth is 79. She's free spirited and exciting, he's kind of morbid -- in that he frequently stages very elaborate but ultimately fake suicides, but only when he's not busy attending random funerals. First they become friends and then they fall in love. Well, but they're both happy, and that's what matters, right?
8. It's Complicated
Meryl Streep stars in this lovely little rom-com as well, alongside Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. I adore this movie, which beautifully highlights how awkward it can be when you start dating again – especially if you still kind of have a thing for your ex. More importantly, however, it proves that there's no time limit on feeling sexy or being sexual. It's not gross or weird or icky, it's natural and beautiful. (Especially if you're Meryl Streep.)
I'll admit, a lot of these movies star Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, or Jack Nicholson, as if they're the only actresses and actors Hollywood has allowed to continue acting in leading roles. Still, it's a start – and they all embrace their age, wouldn't you say? Do you like seeing older actors in romantic roles?