Sunday, March 18, 2007

postheadericon The sexy older woman - is she now an endangered species in Cinema?

Seems to be my week for watching onscreen unconventional pairings.

Two days ago I saw Bollywood's "Nishabd" where a 60-year old man falls in love with an 18-year old girl and today I saw "Unfaithful" with Diane Lane and Richard Gere.

This is one those movies where an affair goes badly wrong (not sure an extra-marital affair should go any other way, but I digress). In a nutshell, Diane Lane is a suburban housewife who has a hot and steamy affair with a much younger French book dealer. Diane Lane was 36 when she made the movie and I have to say she looks great! No attempt was made to hide or cover her wrinkles and yet she looked hot! But, matching a younger man with an older woman is not regular Hollywood faire, is it? After Ann Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson in 1967's "The Graduate", I can't think of a movie with a sexy older lady paired off with a younger man that became a box office hit. Is the cougar an endangered species in Hollywood? I would think so. And yet, offscreen romances abound, with Demi Moore, Susan Sarandon, Madonna, Cameron Diaz and Barbara Hershey all landing younger men and quite effortlessly too.

Ok, let's move away from the older woman-younger man scenario for a while. How often do we get to see women over 40 playing sexy and romantic roles in Hollywood? Sure, there are exceptions...Meryl Streep in "Bridges of Madison County", Diane Keaton in "Something's Gotta Give", Helen Mirren and the ladies in "Calender Girls" but they are usually few and far between.

What keeps Hollywood (and Bollywood) from celebrating an older woman's sexuality? Surely they're not scared of wrinkles? Or does the problem lie with us viewers? Do we have trouble accepting older women in sexy roles? Are we just more comfortable with them playing frumpy mothers or aging queens? Bollywood is especially guilty I think...when was the last time a woman over 40 was caste as the female lead in a romantic role?

BTW, feel free to agree or disagree. Maybe you think the older women aren't getting such a bad deal after all, write and let me know, suggest movies, I'm open to all points of view...


Sam said...

I think they are because of multiple plastic surgeries so much so they don't look like their former self. Sadly, they start at a very young age.
I thought Diane Lane was fantastic looking in this movie too. She is very sexy.

Sanjay said...

I think both Bollywood and Hollywood (to a lesser extent) are pretty formulaic. They are living up to type as perhaps are the audiences, as society has been schooled and conditioned in to believing that a woman changes once she has kids(or not) and even more so when she is over 40.

This is often reflected in advertising and on TV and in movies as well. I am not sure who is reinforcing the stereotype here.

I agree that women over 40 are getting a raw deal. You sort of see them fading away suddenly in terms of the roles they play that is.

Also the film world is still pretty male dominated in many ways and of course there is the male who gets celebrated no matter how old n haggard he gets. There are exceptions but as you rightly point out not enough.

Diane Lane is truly beautiful, have seen her in other movies too.

I can't think of movies offhand other than the ones you speak of.

Thank you for a very thought provoking post.

ML said...

It's interesting how the industry focuses on outer "beauty." Yes, some young women are stunning on outside and the market focuses on that. But, I think about how MUCH they're missing out by bypassing the 40 and older women. I find those ladies (who haven't altered their looks with plastic surgery, etc) much more beautiful. You can see them radiate it from within.

Sai said...

Hey didn't you hear 40 is the new 30! Therefore 36 is not that old....pssst...I am in my thirties as well.

Men tend to get younger trophy wives as opposed to women so yes it is nice to see the other way around!

diyadear said...

well yes i agree that in unfaithful dianne was sure hot..(hope u know bollywood film murder starring mallika is a remake.) However i didnt like graduate much but for the lovely songs.. N in hollywood we do c older women doing sexy roles.. but in bollywood its a strict nono.. god knows y!!

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Sam!

Yes, I agree...I would love to get the name of Demi Moore's plastic surgeon...gosh, she doesn't look a day older than 25! :) Diane Lane is a more natural-looking beauty. She doesn't hide her wrinkles and if anything, I find it lends more character to her face. She has the most amazing body for her age however!

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Sanjay!

as society has been schooled and conditioned in to believing that a woman changes once she has kids(or not) and even more so when she is over 40.

This is often reflected in advertising and on TV and in movies as well. I am not sure who is reinforcing the stereotype here.

I couldn't agree more! I was in shock yesterday when I read that Marc Jacob's latest muse is 13-year old Dakota Fanning!!! I mean, come on, she is going to be walking down the runway with haute couture clothes intended for people much older than herself...a 35-year old looking at her is going to torture herself when the clothes don't look the same on her body as they did on Dakota Fanning. Something's just not right here, why are real women being pushed over for these waifs?

Lotus Reads said...

Hi ml!

Absolutely! I expressed the very same thing in my comment to Sam. Those little wrinkles, that little show of grey...adds so much character to the woman's face. When are we going to learn to celebrate wrinkles???

Hi, Sai!

LOL,yeah! I quite like seeing an older woman with a younger man...maybe it's sweet retribution in my eyes, after all, men have been doing it for years! :)

Hi, Diya

No, I didn't know about Mallika. My knowledge of Bollywood is woefully inadequate, so I am glad you pointed that out. Yeah, some brave director is going to have to bring Rekha out and make a movie for her where someone, let's say, Shahrukh, falls desperately in love with her and they have a torrid romance. I think Bollywood needs something like, don't you think?

diyadear said...

hey when u mentioned srk, it remindes me of the movie maya memsaab. i think it had a similar backdrop.. also anjaam, in which madhuri was married with a kid..As for rekha.. yes its very uch possible:)

hellomelissa said...

i think helen mirren, judi dench, meryl streep and the like are way more sexy than the sex symbols hollywood has chosen. call me crazy, but diane lane at age 36!! was so young making this movie but everybody made such a big deal that she was the OLDER woman. shoot, i'm 33 and feel really darn young.

Anonymous said...

who was it who said by the time you've got it all together, everything else is falling apart? :)
off the bat, i remember Dil Chahta Hai, where Akshay Khanna romanced Dimple Kapadia, the older, divorced mom with an alcohol problem. Though, in the end, they tipped her off, so as to not have to deal with the young man -older lady relationship. beautiful movie - bears watching again.

Lisa Francisco said...

we have problems generally accepting what is reality. entertainment is fake. we bitch and complain about all the skinny, anorexic models, actresses, singers out there but when a company finally listens and puts real women with real curves, people bitch and complain even more. Prime example, the DOVE ad campaign last year with real women in bras and underwears on the posters between size 8 and size 12-14. Women lashed out at this campaign and said put your clothes back on!

same thing with older women. it sucks that a woman's value is based on her youth because she loses value every day of her life from the day she's born till the day she dies. vent

Lotus Reads said...

@Diya ~ Oh, definitely going to have to put "Maya Memsahib" on my list. Thanks a bunch!

@Melissa ~ Exactly! The fuss that was made over Diane Lane, I thought she was 50+ when she made the movie, I was really taken aback when I read she was only 36, because in my eyes, that's YOUNG!

@nocturne ~ Yeay, another movie to add to my list, thank you girlie!

@Lisa Fransisco ~ Welcome! Great to have you here. I saw the Dove ads (infact,a close friend was featured in one of them) and I LOVED them, but you're right, many women were uncomfortable with seeing "real" women, shame on us!

Lisa Francisco said...

Thanks for stopping by! Welcome to you to!! It's always great to meet new people in the blog world.

FYI, there will come a point when your daughter will stop practicing and neglect her music despite her love for it. This will be due to adolescence. It will be up to you to keep her active with her lessons and practice. For she will regret years later when she's an adult that she stopped and she will say, because we all do say it including me, I wish my parents made me keep practicing....Keep her inspiration alive! :)


Lisa Francisco said...

FYI...I believe the Lotus flower will become my symbol! :) fyi shhh it's a secret :)

Lotus Reads said...

Hi again, Lisa!

Yes, I try to encourage her as much as I can. At the moment, she wants to go to a High School for the Performing Arts. We have two close by but they have very tough entrance exams, so we'll have to see.

I would love to see the Lotusflower as your symbol...I have had as mine for close to 10 years now, I love it!

Rauf said...

I remember Diane Lane as a child. Very sweet she was in 'A Little Romance' with Lawrance Olivier and Theloneous Bernard. Unforgetable film. Beautiful locations, travel through Europe, ending in Venice. I remember the theatre LEO which was a new addition to the Midland theatre on General Patter's road, This was long time ago. No more good films and passionate film makers now.

Rauf said...

Oh ! 'the graduate' saw the movie many times just for Simon and Garfunkle. missed everything else.
' Odeon' theatre' it was
Katherine ross there too. who is this short fellow ? Then other short fellows like Al pacino to follow.

Other name that comes to my mind is Cybil Sheppard. Gorgeous she was. Katherine Hepburn could carry the film on her shoulders. Powerful roles written only for them so the wrinkles really don't matter.

Some desperately cling on to the youth and some age gracefully and enjoy growing old. I don't know how i am going to deal with older Meg Ryan. Her wrinkles are deep scars on my heart.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Rauf!

I don't know how i am going to deal with older Meg Ryan. Her wrinkles are deep scars on my heart.

LOL, Rauf, isn't she the one married to Antonia Banderas or is that Melanie Griffith? Call me weird, but quite honestly I prefer all the actresses you mentioned to some of the young 'uns out there.

BTW, you have a gorgeous blog, I am so glad you share those awesome pictures with us!

Lisa Francisco said...

hey when's your next posting?!!! some people are waiting...... HELLO?!!!! :(


Rauf said...

Dennis Quaide, Quade. Melanie's husband is Bandares. Old news, I am not sure if they are still married. There used to be a famous market in Chennai called Moore Market. I think I spent half my life there. I have stories and stories. I used to go there and buy back issues of Photoplay, modern screen and collect pictures of all hollywood chokrees. Read all the gossips, There was another magazine called 'True story' Elezebeth Taylor's marriages were always hot topic standing in the queue for movies.
For 3'o' Clock show of Lawrance of Arabia, I stood in the queue at 4 in the morning only to find 300 people were already there. For Bridge on the River kwai, me and my friends took food stuff water and stood in the queue the night before. First day first show was a passion.

no crowd for 'the graduate' New wave films were not welcome, I saw the film only after a week of its release. because there were no gunfights. Dustin half manaaa ? what name ?, how a short bugger can get into movies. What Al pachinaaa ? how they get in to hollywood with names like that ? Kullamaa irukkaan .(he is so short)
We were used to names like Rock Hodson, Gregory Peck, Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, John Wayne, Yenna style daa ?? These are the names of the real Heros. Al pachinaaa ? What daa ? So much fun those days, Release of a movie was like a festival, Before the release there used to be a crowd only to see the stills displayed in the theatre.

Yuva said...

actually, hollywood (and bollywood) had movies celebrating women's sexuality --
those you mention are great movies and neatly done and in mumbai... too 'Being Cyrus', Dil Chahta Hai(with Dimple Kapadia)..and Fire, Bas Ek Pal,..

few more-- Must Love Dogs, one Fine day, and might even add story of us, Devil Wears Prada in that list...

as in this case-- naturally those dont catch attention as they should. thus making such movie far and few. problem: i guess, most(women) dont want/support to see such older women playing lead roles. (bez since audience are younger.!!)

sage said...

the ultimate older woman/younger man movie is Harold and Maude (but Maude was anything but sexy)

Lotus Reads said...

Hey again Rauf!

I think I remember "Moore Market" has it been renamed "Burma Market" by some chance? I spent a few years in Chennai in the early '90's and loved every minute of parents (two hardcore Mumbaikars) loved the city enough to want settle there, but finally the heat and mosquitoes drove them to seek refuge in Bangalore where they now live.

Lotus Reads said...

hi Yuva!

Oh, yeah, how could I forget "Being Cyrus", this is Dimple's second attempt at playing an older woman to a younger man, isn't it? I found "Being Cyrus" just a tad weird...I didn't enjoy it enough to complete it, but maybe i should give it another chance.

Hi, Sage

You know..I haven't seen "Harold and Maude". Sexy or not,I should put it on my list. Thank you for stopping by, I'm always happy to make a new friend.

Chimera said...

atleast women above 40 get a chance to act decent roles in Hollywood, in Bollywood they are only given 'ma, daadima' type of roles but there are a few off-beat movies which have featured Dimple - acpart from Being Cyrus and Dil Chahta hai which did not do justice to Dimple, 'Leela' is one movie where she was looking gorgeous.

Linda (Sama) said...

Hollywood, Bollywood, Shmollywood...the sexy older woman is an endangered species EVERYWHERE. The reality is that in modern (western?) society, a woman over 40 is invisible to both men AND women.

I'm a 50+ yoga teacher and the other day a man told me I looked "radiant"! I almost passed out at the compliment. But do you think I'd ever be chosen to be on the cover of Yoga Journal? Hell no! Because I'm not young and size 2.

Lotus Reads said...

hi, Chimera!

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you...when I get a comment on this blog I am not informed via e-mail, so very often I don't even know if someone is visiting an older post.

Yeah, and why is it that only Dimple gets these "sexy older women" roles? Are some of the other, equally gorgeous older actresses in Bollywood, not wanting to take on those kinds of roles? Does the problem also lie with our gender and our reluctance to see mothers are sexy creatures?

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Linda and welcome!

Yes, I have heard that it is so. That is why I pine for a society like India or China where life begins at 50 (older people are accorded so much more respect there). Our society here is so youth-obsessed, I think any woman after 35 is fighting an uphill battle.

Entropae AKA Tall Fat Broad said...

While it isn't a young man/older woman pairing, I recommend "The Thomas Crown Affair" with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. She was no spring chicken in that, but a real hot mama. The premise of the movie is quite interesting as well, but I was very happy to see a "mature" woman in a very sensual role. I just found your blog today and I think to make some interesting points. Thanks

Linda (Sama) said...

did anyone mention the movie White Palace with Susan Sarandon and....hmmmm.....the guy who plays the lawyer on Boston Legal (?)....and I don't mean William Shatner, the younger guy....what about Bull Durham, again, ahem....with Susan Sarandon hooks up the young pitcher before Kevin Costner....

White Palace is by far my fave older woman/young dude movie....

and don't forget Harold & Maude....:)

Kristie said...

Kudos on the "caste" pun.
Do you still write on here? I noticed all your blogs are from 2007?