Many popular romance movies focus on young adults but their insecurities and romantic problems can sometimes be hard to relate to. British actress, Juliet Stevenson has said, “It’s frustrating. As you go on in your life, you get more complex and have more life experience, but lots of writers don’t think that way. The roles (for older actors) get diminished, smaller and typecast.”
The following movies feature older adults who are single, in long-term relationships, divorced and widowed. Their romances are complicated by past relationships, their children, health problems, and in some cases, age differences. While love after 50 might come with roadblocks and bittersweet endings, these stories show that it’s never too late to pursue happiness.
Top 10 Romance Movies Starring 50+ Actors
This remake of the Audrey Hepburn classic stars Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear. Sabrina (Ormond) is the daughter of a chauffeur who lives on the estate of the wealthy Larrabee family. She secretly loves David Larrabee (Kinnear), the playboy son who never notices her.
As an adult, she travels to Paris on an internship and returns a confident woman who finally catches David’s eye. Unfortunately, David is engaged to a woman who’s family is set to merge businesses with the Larabee’s business. Older brother Linus (Ford) sets out to romance Sabrina in hopes of averting a crisis, and unexpected love blooms in the process.
Ford was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his role, and Greg Kinnear was deemed as the Most Promising Actor by the Chicago Film Critics Association in his first starring role.
As Good As It Gets (1997)
This romantic comedy stars Jack Nicholson as Melvin, an obsessive-compulsive romance novelist. Melvin always eats breakfast at the same restaurant where Carol, a single mother played by Helen Hunt, is his waitress. When Melvin’s neighbour, Simon, is injured, Melvin is forced to care for Simon’s dog. Melvin eventually becomes attached to the dog and Carol begins to see him in a new light.
When Simon is released from the hospital, Melvin has a hard time returning the dog and is further disturbed when Carol needs to change jobs to be closer to her sick son. Melvin offers to pay for Carol’s son’s expenses if she agrees to remain at her current job.
Simon, Melvin and Carol go on an unlikely road trip which ends in discovery, healing, and the beginning of a new relationship.
Both Nicholson and Hunt won Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards for their roles and the film has an 86% approval rating from critics.
In this biographical film, Kate Winslet and Judi Dench play British novelist Iris Murdoch during two different time periods. Iris is an outgoing professor who falls in love with a quiet, fellow professor. Jim Broadbent plays her devoted husband, John Bayley, who helps her remember their 40-year romance. The film explores their role reversal, John’s frustration, and their enduring love in the face of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dench was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role at the Academy Awards and won Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at the BAFTA awards. Broadbent won the Best Actor in a Supporting Role at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards.
Something’s Gotta Give (2003)
Jack Nicholson stars as playboy Harry Sanborn who dates young women like Marin played by Amanda Peet. When the couple goes to the Hamptons to stay at Marin’s mother Erica’s house they are surprised to find Erica, played by Diane Keaton. After Harry suffers a heart attack, he is forced to recuperate in the Hamptons with Erica. Although they initially clash, they begin a relationship after Harry breaks up with Marin. After a fight, Erica writes a successful play that mirrors their complicated relationship. Both characters must forgive each other to find true love.
Diane Keaton won three awards for Best Actress and Jack Nicholson was nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globes.
Shall We Dance? (2004)
Richard Gere plays John Clark, an unsatisfied lawyer who takes up dancing on a whim, in part because of Paulina, a beautiful dance teacher played by Jennifer Lopez. He is shot down by Paulina but continues to his dance lessons without telling his wife, Beverly, played by Susan Sarandon. Beverly becomes suspicious, hires a private investigator and eventually shows up a dance competition where John is competing. After he is disqualified from the program, John quits dancing in frustration.
After John convinces his wife that he still loves her, she convinces him to return to dance. Paulina is inspired by John and returns to competing herself.
Roger Ebert gives the film, which grossed over $170 million, 3 out of 4 stars.
Away from Her (2006)
Canadian actress, Sarah Polley made her directorial debut with this film about the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on a relationship. Played by Gordon Pinsent and Julie Christie, Grant and Fiona are a retired married Canadian couple. When Fiona’s struggle with Alzheimer’s becomes worse, she convinces Grant to check her in to a special nursing home. Grant reluctantly agrees and must wait a 30-day adjustment period before seeing his wife again.
When he returns, he finds that Fiona appears not to recognize him and is now attracted to Aubrey, a fellow patient. Grant wonders if Fiona is punishing him for his past indiscretions, but when Aubrey is removed from the home, he sees that Fiona becomes depressed. Realizing he would rather see Fiona happy with another man than unhappy with the stranger he has become, he asks Aubrey’s wife Marian to return him to the facility. Marian, played by Olympia Dukakis, initially refuses, but is attracted to Grant. Grant visits with both women and wonders if his wife will ever remember who he is.
The film was awarded an astonishing seven Genie Awards and Julie Christie won Best Actress at the Critic`s Choice Awards and Oustanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The film has a 94% approval rating from critics, according to the Rotten Tomatoes website.
Mamma Mia! (2008)
In this film version of the popular stage musical, Amanda Seyfried plays Sophie, a young woman about to get married. She goes through her mother’s diary and finds three men who could be her father. Without telling her mother, she invites the three men, played by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard, to her wedding. Meryl Streep plays her mother Donna, who is surprised to see her old lovers. Before long, Sophie discovers the identity of her real father, and Donna rekindles her romance with one of her past lovers.
Mamma Mia is the highest grossing musical worldwide, and Meryl Streep was nominated as the Best Actress in a Motion Picture: Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globe Awards.
Last Chance Harvey (2008)
Dustin Hoffman, who was 71-year-old during the film, plays Harvey Shine, a man facing one of the worst weeks of his life. His long-term job is at risk, due to competition from younger talent, and his daughter chooses her wealthy stepfather to walk her down the aisle at her wedding. In the midst of this demoralizing time, he meets Kate Walker, played by Emma Thompson. Kate is a single woman who is disillusioned with dating.Though neither is looking for love, they start up an unlikely romance.
Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson were nominated for Best Actor and Actress at the Golden Globe Awards.
It’s Complicated (2009)
Starring Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin this is a classic love triangle with a twist. Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin’s characters Jane and Jake have been divorced for 10 years and have three grown children. After attending their son’s college graduation, they begin an affair despite the fact that Jake is now remarried. Adam, an architect, played by Steve Martin, is also interested in Jane. The former couple must navigate their complicated relationship and consider their children’s feelings in the matter.
Meryl Streep was nominated for Best Actress at the Golden Globe Awards and Alec Baldwin was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the BAFTA awards. The film won Best Ensemble Cast at the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Academy.
Letters to Juliet (2010)
Amanda Seyfried plays Sophie, a young woman who takes a trip to Italy with her workaholic fiancé. Bored, she stumbles upon a letter to Juliet at a lover’s courtyard. Although the letter is from 1957, she contacts the writer, Claire, played by Vanessa Redgrave, then 73. Claire arrives with her grandson Charlie to find her long-lost love, Lorenzo. Sophie and Charlie grow closer as they seek to reunite Claire & Lorenzo.
What are some of your favorite movies featuring older adults?