Let’s face it, Christmas television is actually pretty pants. Aside from the usual soap dramas, blockbuster films and re-runs of Christmas classics it isn’t all it’s really cracked up to be. Yet sometimes, not often, amongst all the Eastenders gloom and Die Hard, Die Hard Again, Dying Harder, Refusing to Die Hard (etc), you find a hidden gem. A beautifully made story for absolute viewing pleasure. This year it was BBC’s Esio Trot. Based on the Roald Dahl novel, this made for TV movie starring Dame Judi Dench, Dustin Hoffman with James Cordon as the Narrator, told the story of Mr. Hoppy and Mrs. Silver and the plethora of tortoises that bring them together.
Amongst all the shiny Hollywood rom-coms starring LA darlings with tanned skin, perfect teeth and eternal youthful complexions, the romantic plight of the elderly is often looked over. But as the title of this post suggests, it is never too late. Here are our favourite examples of love late in bloom:
1. Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot (Dearbhla Walsh, 2015)
Shown on New Years Day in the UK, Esio Trot brings together two powerhouse actors in an incredibly sweet love story. Written by Richard Curtis, and with his stamp all over it, the sentiment is high while saccharine remains low. This is a genuine yet silly look at two lonely people, finding each other under most unusual circumstances.
2. Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (John Madden, 2012)
Everything about this yes. A film that brings together Britain’s finest actors, who just happen to be a tad older, and immerses them in the vibrancy of India. Starring (again) Dame Judy, Dame Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup and Dev Patel and the hotel’s energetic as positive-thinking manager. Not only does love blossom in the hotel-come-retirement home, but Dench’s character Evelyn is on a voyage of self-discovery also. This film seeks to show you’re never too old to change. We eagerly await the second film, out this year.
3. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)
All the crying forever. Emanuelle Riva is simply divine. This Palme d’Or winning french-language film about an elderly couple dealing with the fallouts of a stroke is so beautiful. A heartbreaking look at true love everlasting. I just can’t say anymore because of the aforementioned crying.
4. It’s Complicated (Nancy Meyers, 2009)
Ok..so not all the leads in this film are over 60 (Alec Baldwin is almost 10 years younger than screen-wife Streep), but it definitely gets put in that ‘older people’ category, plus I love it and it’s fab so shush. Starring Meryl Streep as a mother who finds herself single after her husband (Baldwin) has shacked up with his new much younger girlfriend, Lake Bell. She meets architect Adam (Steve Martin) and she is awakened. Full of fun and laughs and Steve Martin. What more could you want?
5. As Good As It Gets (James L. Brooks, 1997)
Jack Nicholson stars as a best-selling novelist Melvin who suffers from crippling OCD. As he forms a relationship with waitress Carol (Helen Hunt), his condition gradually improves and he begins to see and appreciate all the small joys in life. A wonderfully charming movie about learning to live your life without barriers.
6. Something’s Gotta Give (Nancy Meyers, 2003)
Another nancy Meyers. Another jack Nicholson. Just great. This film, starring 70’s quirky girl Diane Keaton and eternal lothario Nicholson, brings together an unlikely pair, some younger lovers (wink) and a bunch of hilarious over-50s-will-get-these jokes that my old soul finds jolly as anything. It tells us that life is too short to worry about who you used to be; forget the expectations and just be who you want to be.
7. Up (Pete Docter, 2009)
Although not technically about an elderly couple falling in love, it’s still about an old love. A strong love, as well as letting go in order to make way for new things. Carl Friedrichson and a young scout named Russell go on an adventure to South America, fulfilling a promise he made to his wife years before. A wonderful addition to the Pixar repertoire. You will laugh, cry and everything in between.
8. Away From Her (Sarah Polley, 2006)
This Canadian drama is the feature-length directorial debut of the fantastic Sarah Polley who also wrote the screenplay. It tells the story of Grant (Gordon Pinsent) and Fiona (Julie Christie), a retired couple whose relationship is strained when Fiona develops Alzheimer’s, as well as feelings for another resident of her nursing home. The film is painfully truthful and poignant. Christie’s performance is superb and Polley’s direction of the short story by Alice Munroe is touching and brilliant.