Love Stories for the Ages

Love Stories for the Ages

Writer Jane Ganahl shares some of her favorite romantic movies.

Freeway Drive-In Stefanie Poteet, Retro Roadside Photography

For years, I’ve complained that the love lives of aging baby boomers like me are rarely given on-screen treatment. But a recent increase in films that cast a sympathetic eye on sex and love among the aging makes me wonder if Hollywood is getting it: boomers are still life- and love-embracing people— and we buy a lot of movie tickets.

“Le Week-end” (2013) stars Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan as a long-married couple seeking to rekindle things in Paris. Funny, poignant, and harrowing, “Le Week-end” is like watching marital therapy: a lack of sex and romance loom large. It’s a joy to see them rejuvenate their long-dormant passions, despite their kitchen-sink fights.

“Gloria” (2013) is a Chilean-Spanish film with an unforgettable lead character in Gloria Cumplido, a 58-year-old divorcee. She frequents local dance clubs, sleeping around indiscriminately and without much satisfaction, until she meets a shy former naval officer and learns, for the first time in her life, the difference between sex and romance.

“Enough Said” (2013) stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini as Eva and Albert, lost souls who meet at a party where the sparks fly; their first kiss is cinematic euphoria. But rather than trusting her instincts, Eva begins to second-guess her attraction based on others’ opinions. Will she realize how rare love is before it slips through her fingers?

“Hope Springs” (2012) has been mis-marketed as a comedy, when in fact it’s a fairly serious take on how marriages can break down and the work it takes to pull them back from the brink. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones shine as a middle-aged couple trying to reopen their angry hearts and jump-start their libidos before it’s too late.

“It’s Complicated” (2009) and “Something’s Gotta Give” (2003) are both Nancy Meyers films featuring middle-aged heroines (Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton) in romantic romps. Meyers does not shy away from the challenges of midlife trysts, but the endings ring unsatisfyingly false: people following their heads rather than their hearts.

“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (2012) features a stellar cast of Brits trying to find their hearts’ desires in a shabby retirement hotel in India. Despite a surprising lack of sex given the heady setting, some sweet romances bloom, even as familiar ways die. There’s even a lovely, if doomed, gay love story. And that, I believe, is the next frontier.

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