Older women and younger men can be a combustible combination... both in the bedroom and at the box office. Whether you've dabbled in younger men yourself, or just enjoy it as a spectator sport, do yourself a solid and check out these 5 movies about older women who get down and dirty with men significantly younger than themselves.
1. The Graduate
Director Mike Nichols introduced the world to Dustin Hoffman and coined the pop culture term "Mrs. Robinson" (for a certain kind of sexually predatory older woman), in his groundbreaking 1967 film about the clash between a corrupt older generation, and the new guard that was coming of age. Hoffman was brilliantly cast against type (it was originally supposed to be Robert Redford) as Benjamin Braddock, a recent college grad who returns home to his well-to-do family's home in Southern California, at a loss for what to do with his future. Forced to make the rounds of his parents' friends' cocktail parties, Benjamin stumbles into the manicured clutches of the seductive Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the wife of his father's law partner. Benjamin drifts into a routine of floating in the family pool by day and hooking up with Mrs. R. at night, but a third corner of a love triangle is forming, in the shape of the Robinsons' daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross), who his parents have set their sights on as their future daughter-in-law. Not only does Bancroft (who was only 6 years older than Hoffman when this movie was filmed) look stunning in her soon-to-be-iconic, older woman-on-the-prowl outfits (think sleek black shifts with leopard print accents), she gives a timeless performance as a beautiful but bitter woman trapped in a sexless marriage, whose brazen sexual confidence masks a well of disappointment.
2. Harold and Maude
In this hilarious, eccentric cult classic of the 1970s, a morbid young man finds new joy in life in the loving arms of a free-thinking 79-year-old woman. As the film opens, we meet the baby-faced Harold (Bud Cort), whose death obsession - and desire to upset his socialite mother - has led him to stage multiple, elaborate fake suicides. While attending a funeral just for kicks, Harold meets the free-spirited septuagenarian Maude (Ruth Gordon), whose offbeat approach to life he finds instantly attractive. Much to everyone's horror, the much older woman and younger man become a romantic item, and Maude gradually tutors Bud in the arts and teaches him to value and enjoy the brief time he has on earth. While this movie is not for everyone - it's definitely not your typical romantic comedy - there's so much quirky fun to enjoy here, from the confident and quirky performance of Gordon, a true character, to the giggling joy of the in-love couple, freaking out the squares with their never-mind-the-haters attitude to their romance and life.
3. Bull Durham
In this 1988 romantic sports comedy, Kevin Costner stars as Crash Davis, a long-time minor league baseball player who, in the autumn of his career, gets assigned to the losing Durham Bulls. He strikes up a friendship with Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), a talented but dense pitching prodigy, and becomes a mentor to the young player. Nuke is also mentored in the bedroom and in the "Church of Baseball" by Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), a baseball groupie with a spiritual bent, who chooses one player on the Bulls to be her lover each season. In sports terms, Susan Sarandon is the MVP of older women who date younger men. (Just consider her roles in Alfie, White Palace - reviewed further down this page - and this flick, where she met the 12-years-younger Tim Robbins who would become her life partner of 23 years). Here, the actress is fierce, free and in control, thanks to her natural intelligence and a great script by screenwriter Ron Shelton, and her scenes with both Costner and Robbins sparkle with sex, wit and good humor.
4. Notes on a Scandal
Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench give astounding performances in this 2006 British pscyhological drama about lust, obsession and revenge. Barbara (Dench) is a jaded, spinsterish teacher at an inner city London high school, whose main pleasure in life is recording her mean-spirited musings in her daily journal. When the lovely Sheba (Blanchett) is hired as the new art teacher at the school, Barbara develops an intense, delusional crush on the young, married woman. She begins a slow and steady campaign to make Sheba her friend, hoping one day the two can be much more to one another. When Barbara discovers a scandalous secret about Sheba's relationship with a young male student at the school, it gives her the ammunition she needs to force Sheba into a closer connection with her. But Barbara's fantasies are based on the nastiest kind of emotional blackmail, and her machinations lead them all toward a dark and violent conclusion.
5. White Palace
Susan Sarandon (there she is again) stars with the scrumptious young James Spader in this romantic drama from 1990, about the unlikely love affair between an upper-class young man and a working-class older woman. Max (Spader) is a twenty-something advertising exec who's been a shadow of himself since his wife died two years earlier. One night, following a drunken confrontation with forty-something burger joint waitress Nora (Sarandon), he winds up going home with her and they begin a passionate sexual relationship. While the older Nora and the younger Max share a powerful physical connection - the sex scenes here are electric - Max's attempts to mold Nora into a more suitable match, and Nora's insecurities about her age and social status, make for a rocky relationship outside of the bedroom. But the course of true love never did run smooth, and this movie ultimately delivers on its build-up, in a satisfyingly romantic climax.
For more movie therapy, check out the rest of my blog!