Hollywood caters almost exclusively to the male fantasy (sorry, Magic Mike is not a game changer), so Maggie Gyllenhaal's recent admission that at 37 she was deemed too old to play the romantic interest of a 55-year-old is anything but shocking. Although you can argue that biological factors impact how we determine female attractiveness and that men can't help but be horrified by a woman whose eggs have started to turn, at this point it's straight up sexism and not biology that is the driving force behind this problem. Fortunately, there are films that flip the script on May-December loving, and do so without a jokey and/or moralistic premise (I'm looking at you, The Boy Next Door).
As there is a wealth of data out there detailing how sex improves with age for women (and how erectile dysfunction increases with age for men), it's almost counterintuitive that we don't have more older ladies getting their rocks off with younger men. Most of the time, the horny older woman characters that do make the cut are either a cautionary tale, a sad caricature, or just plain gross, but when films subvert this dynamic, the results can be radical for viewers. Seeing disparate age pairings onscreen can be affirming reminders for women that they are indeed sexually desirable past their supposed 40-year-old expiration date, and in turn have the right to widen the age pool of their dating searches if they so desire. These films also let young men know that hey, it's OK to check out older broads. Here are seven films that humanize relationships between older women and younger men.
1. White Palace
Promoted as "the story of a younger man and a bolder woman," this steamy yet emotionally compelling film finds a young, recently widowed James Spader falling for diner waitress Susan Sarandon. Sure, they face challenges fitting in to each other's daily lives, but at the core, their 16-year age difference doesn't matter. White Palace is an underrated look at how an older woman and younger man can make it work in spite of romantic convention.
2. Harold and Maude
Cult classic Harold and Maude is a dark yet moving movie about mentorship and romance between a death-obsessed young man and an equally morbid and quirky 79-year-old. While the film is so extreme in age difference that it doesn't offer many real world parallels, the message of love beyond the boundaries of age does shine through in the end.
3. Don Jon
This meditation on porn addiction and the crisis of contemporary American masculinity takes a sharp turn when middle-aged Julianne Moore enters the picture and teaches Italian stallion Joseph Gordon-Levitt a thing or two about sex. The pairing is completely unlikely (given his penchant for perfect 10's under 30), but the sexual chemistry between the two beats porn any day. Don Jon is a great reminder that with age comes sexual experience, and the young men who benefit from that experience are oh-so-lucky.
4. American Gigolo
American Gigolo is the story of a really, really, ridiculously good looking sex worker and the older female clients he respectfully tends to. Richard Gere's character Julian really seems to enjoy pleasuring older women without scorn and comes off as a sexual caretaker instead of manipulator. He eventually finds one older woman (Lauren Hutton) whom he does fall for, and they live happily ever after. Although the end kinda buys into the whole "sex workers need rescuing" trope, it's Richard fucking Gere with full frontal nudity — and hot, straight, white male sex workers don't seem to face too much prejudice IRL anyways.
5. How Stella Got Her Groove Back
This 1998 film updates the cliché story of a jaded, successful 40-something being refreshed and renewed by a young lover by making the object of affection male. Angela Bassett is a single mother and busy stockbroker who travels to Jamaica for some R&R only to find some D&A (you can guess what that stands for). Taye Diggs plays the studly, young paramour who inspires her to rethink her life choices.
6. The Graduate
This is more of a cautionary tale than real romance, but the sexual chemistry between Anne Bancroft and a much younger Dustin Hoffman can't be beat. The relationship between the two speaks to assimilating and breaking away from your parent's generation — and what better way to do that than through sex? Although the fallout from the affair is pretty nasty, the sexual power wielded by Mrs. Robinson as an older woman onscreen is iconic.
Class is BratPack gold: Andrew McCarthy falls for a mysterious older lady (the gorgeous Jacqueline Bisset) who just so happens to be his BFF Rob Lowe's mom. The film is, in some ways, just a teenage MILF fantasy in action, but who's to say it can't also cater to the fantasies of moms as well?
Images: YouTube (7)