Love in the movies is often associated with youth and newness. The main character falls in love with their high school crush, or their best friend in college, or their best friend’s boyfriend at the first job. The romance genre is overflowing with teenagers and young adults, with a smaller subset of films reserved for older couples.
While there are much fewer romantic movies following the love lives of older characters, there are many great examples, partly due to the experience of older actors compared to new leads on the romantic scene. Alongside a certain sophistication not found in high school romances, these mature love stories often carry an overarching message that you don’t have to be young to find love, try something new, and have fun doing it.
10 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)
In The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, an assortment of some of Britain’s most beloved older actors is assembled in this romantic comedy about retirees traveling to what they believe is a luxurious hotel in India. Eventually, they are charmed by the rustic residence and find themselves to be more alike than they realized.
If this were a movie about young travelers, romantic rendezvouses and infidelity would be expected. A plot focused on retirees is no different, as we watch the characters fall in love with India and, in some cases, each other through a youthful, comedic script that reminds viewers that life does not become lacking in color once retirement age is hit. As the characters fall in and out of love with one another, the film argues that no matter what age, an older person can still make the same misguided decisions as young people do when it comes to romance.
9 Mamma Mia! (2008)
Set on a beautiful Greek island to the greatest hits of the Swedish pop band ABBA, it’s no surprise that Mamma Mia! is so beloved in the romantic genre. While the wedding of young Sophie and Sky is at the heart of the story, it’s Sophie’s mother’s love life that makes this movie so unforgettable.
Wishing to find out who her father is, Sophie invites three men to her wedding, having discovered that they each had flings with her mother around the time of her conception. Trapped on an island with her old flames, Donna must face them and the 1970s music, with her journey to find love ultimately upstaging her daughter’s (and her wedding). Donna’s romantic entanglements get the most focus in the film, with some of the most memorable musical moments occurring between her and one of her former loves.
8 Love The Coopers (2015)
A common trope for featuring an older couple’s love story is a multigenerational cast, with romance for the young, adult, and mature characters. A festive example of this is Love The Coopers, in which the tales of four generations of a dysfunctional family intertwine at Christmas.
While each family member has their own love story to be explored, arguably the most important is that of Sam and Charlotte, the parents on the verge of divorce. Watching them rediscover love as their children and grandchildren assemble for Christmas is as heartwarming as it is funny – and engaging enough to distract from a young Timothée Chalamet.
7 My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
Though certainly not old, My Big Fat Greek Wedding‘s love interests Toula and Ian are presented to have found love against the odds at their age. With Toula’s father constantly pointing out how old she is getting without a prospect of marriage, her love story is set apart from those of fresh-faced youths with the world at their feet.
Not only does Toula find Ian when her hopes have all but died out, she also gains a new perspective on life and begins to reinvent herself, not for a man, but to broaden her horizons and escape the mundane routine that she has been trapped in. While the movie suggests that there is no due date for finding love, the more important message is that it’s never too late to change your own life.
6 Hampstead (2017)
Based on true events, Hampstead is a story of determination and unexpected love is brought to life by romance veteran Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson with an unusual meet-cute, as an American widow meets a man living wild on Hampstead Heath and helps to keep him from being evicted.
Finding love without looking is one of many common romantic tropes, and it is used to great effect here. Two people from completely different worlds come together to fight for a cause and stumble across love in the meantime, making this a great example of light, feel-good cinema alongside the beautiful shots of the storied London neighborhood.
5 The Notebook (2004)
A classic of the romance genre and arguably the most beloved Nicholas Sparks adaptation, The Notebook chronicles the love story of Allie and Noah from their young adult days to their finals moments as an elderly couple, Allie having developed dementia and residing in a nursing home.
While Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling are more often remembered as Allie and Noah, the relationship between their elderly counterparts ties the nonlinear story together splendidly. Although most of the film is spent with the younger version of the couple, it is the older Allie and Noah who incite the greatest emotional response in the viewer when their love story comes to a bittersweet end.
4 Our Souls At Night (2017)
Silver screen legends Robert Redford and Jane Fonda star in Netflix’s Our Souls At Night and display a playful side to the romance of older couples despite the sadder circumstances that have brought them together.
Taking the concept of a transactional relationship, not dissimilar to that of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and applying it to an older couple is surprisingly funny and ultimately moving as widowed Louis and Addie accidentally fall in love with somebody who was only there to combat loneliness, nothing more.
3 Supernova (2020)
Recently-released tearjerker Supernova showcases beautiful performances from Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci in a story of love against the clock, a common trope in modern cinema, but in a more modestly real way.
Compared to the likes of The Fault In Our Stars and Me Before You, the audience watches as Sam and Tusker’s relationship is approached by dementia, rather than it always having been a factor. The transformation of their relationship and Sam’s tender caregiving makes for a deeply moving film, not of extravagant romance, but of true, compassionate love.
2 Something’s Gotta Give (2003)
In Something’s Gotta Give, Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton deliver one of the most beloved stories of mature romance, proving that love can always be found again, or for the first time, beyond the height of your youth. 63-year-old Harry has a taste for younger women, but he is surprised to find himself falling in love with Erica, the neurotic mother of his latest girlfriend.
While both characters have younger partners throughout the film, including Keanu Reeves as a dashing doctor, Harry and Erica are perfect for one another. Both share a love for Paris, eating pancakes at night, and stubborn refusal to admit their wrong that initially keeps them apart. The film possesses a classic enemies-to-lovers romance as Harry and Erica go from hating each other to realizing they are soul mates, demonstrating that a successful and lasting love story does not have to be focused on the younger generation.
1 Letters To Juliet (2010)
The sentiment that it is never too late for true love is never championed more than in Letters To Juliet. Journalist Sophie abandons her fiancé on their pre-honeymoon in Italy to track down elderly Claire’s long-lost love, Lorenzo.
While it is satisfying to watch as Claire’s arrogant grandson falls for Sophie on the trip, the gentle adoration that is portrayed when Claire and Lorenzo finally reunite, after having lost one another as young adults and started their own families, is something truly special and doesn’t undermine the love that they both found elsewhere, but suggests that both are beautiful in their own ways. As Claire and Lorenzo, both Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero were once lovers as well (having met on the set of the 1967 musical Camelot), which gives this romance a special emotional resonance.