At last, the commercial film industry is beginning to realize that we “over-50s”—the middle-age and senior demographic—are worthy subjects of major fictional movies.
We are major acting talents, we are not addicted to electronic devices, we like to go to the movies, and we have the money to do so often—and even buy popcorn.
What a relief to discover that producers seem willing to go beyond the 18-49 consumer group to finance films that deal with the full range of human emotions, humour, pathos and love that focus on those “of a certain age.”
The current round started last year, with the runaway success of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, that light-hearted romp as fun-loving British expats frolic in an Indian hotel.
Starring Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Dev Patel as the over-the-top hotel entrepreneur, the film cost $12 million to produce yet has grossed more than $134 million. It depicts British retirees who travel to India to live in what was sold as a renovated hotel, which turns out to be less than plush.
Two of this year’s films follow that general direction. Quartet, Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut, focuses on Beecham House, a home for retired musicians.
The audience enters as the residents are preparing for their annual variety show to raise funds for the home. The light-hearted tone, broken here and there with moments of drama and pathos, is similar to that of The Best Exotic. The thread is woven around the arrival of a well-known opera star, played by Golden Globe-nominated Smith, as the residents try to persuade her to join them in a performance.
Amour, a French production, won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film and was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Emmanuelle Riva), Best Achivement in Directing (Michael Haneke) and Best Original Screenplay. It tackles tougher terrain: How love expresses itself when one partner is stricken with a debilitating disease. It traces a slow decline until a dramatic and unforgettable moment, with great acting by veteran French stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. The finale is powerful and thought-provoking, as is the dénouement.
Amour takes us to a level of love that goes beyond the usual themes that feature beautiful men and women finding, or losing, perfection as the screen feeds our fantasies.
Amour portrays two older actors as a couple facing life-altering conditions that become the ultimate test for the stronger one as the weaker one deteriorates.
How would you react in similar circumstances? Amour dares to provide an answer.