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5 Films for Intergenerational Couples

Depictions of intergenerational relationships and desire pop up from time to time in film.  However, by in large they are straight couples comprised of an older man and a younger woman.  Famously we saw sexual tension between Sean Connery and Katherine Zeta Jones highlighted in the action thriller Entrapment.  However films with characters or relationships that may appeal to a gay intergenerational crowd are few and far between.  This list presents, for your consideration, six films that reflect intergenerational relationships and age different desire that appeal to a gay audience.

Chris and Don:  A Love Story (2007)

Chris and Don is a charming documentary about author Christopher Isherwood and his younger partner Don Bachardy.  I’ve discussed the film at length before, so won’t do so here.  That said, I highly recommend it for its overall positive look at a real life mixed age relationship.  It shares with us the joys and challenges of their relationship while also giving us insight into the thoughts and lives of two incredibly creative men.  Find out more here.

The City of Your Final Destination (2009)

This is a story rich with characters.  At its core is a young man seeking authorization to write a biography of a deceased author, but he must first get authorization from the executors of his estate; the author’s wife, his former mistress, and his brother.  While the story centers on the young man and his quest and romances along the way, some of the most touching moments come between the author’s brother, played by Anthony Hopkins, and his younger partner.  Of all the relationships depicted in the film, theirs is refreshingly the most healthy.  Find out more here.

Gods and Monsters (1998)

Ian Mckellen stars as the classic horror director James Whale who desires an attractive young handyman played by Brendan Fraser.  The story unfolds as Whale cunningly entices the younger man to become more and more involved in his life.  However, tension arises as the older man’s sexual attraction becomes evident.  The film explores themes of desire, aging, and friendship resulting in a touching but bitter-sweet story. Find out more here.

Love and Death on Long Island (1997)

This is the second film on the list to deal with the unrequited love of an older man for a younger one.  Here John Hurt plays a reclusive English author that has a sexual awakening when he becomes enamored of a young American actor he sees in a fluff summer comedy.  Like a teen having a crush for the first time, the author seeks out all the information he can about this young man; even going to the extent of buys teen girl gossip magazines.  Ultimately he travels to America where he orchestrates “accidentally” meeting the actor.    Viewers will likely find the character both tragic and one they can sympathize with, as Hurt deftly portrays the painful awkwardness of burgeoning sexuality.  Find out more here.

Harold and Maude (1971)

This film is a classic that explores themes of self expression and discovery as well as unconventional love.  Harold is a young man who’s wealthy family pressures him to become a cultivated individual, marry well, and find a sensible calling in life.  He finds these pressures unbearable and acts out in a number of unusual ways.  However, he doesn’t really find happiness until he meets and falls in love with Maude, a woman in her 70s.  While the story isn’t explicitly a gay one, its anti-establishment and anti-convention message lends the film a queer sensibility that will leave gay audiences quite happy.  Funny and backed by an upbeat soundtrack from Cat Stevens, this is a film that can’t be passed up.  Find out more here.

The Witnesses (2007)

We’ll end our list with this French film set in Paris of the early 1980s.  The film’s central character is Manu, a young gay man.  Through him the other characters in the film are linked through a web of relationships, including two older men whom vie for Manu’s attention.  The older of the two is a successful doctor that mentors Manu and plies him with affection, but the affection is not returned.  The other man, a police officer, succeeds in obtaining Manu’s love and carries on an affair with him while in an open marriage.  Tensions rise as relations between Manu, the doctor, the policeman, the policeman’s wife, and Manu’s sister get more and more tangled.  This all changes when a new crisis appears, the specter of the emerging AIDS epidemic.  Find out more here.

Please, share with us your thoughts on these films or any others that deal with mixed age relationships.


4 Responses

  1. I watched “A Single Man” few days ago and loved it
    I think it could be part of this list, couldn’t it?

    • I was tempted to include “A Single Man”, but since I was already including Isherwood via the documentary I opted out. I think it should be noted that the novel makes the age difference in the couple more explicit than the film does. Still excellent performances by the cast and an impeccable visual package created by director Tom Ford.

  2. I might also suggest “Communication,” a short film that came out in 2010.

    From the film’s website:


    Young Jacob is alone and adrift, struggling with a religion that doesn’t accept him, a sexual awakening that disturbs him, and haunted by memories of time spent with a teacher – Andrew – a much older man that may have held the key to his happiness.

    Upon hearing that Andrew has died, and that he is the sole beneficiary to his vast estate, Jacob returns to Andrew’s home looking for clues to his mentor’s sudden death.

    But can he find the answers he needs before the grief overwhelms him – or before a jealous ex-lover of Andrew’s discovers him wandering through the house?

    Winner of two international awards and acclaimed by festival audiences around the world, director Christopher Banks “once again proves his skill at storytelling and character development” (Boston LGBT Film Festival) in COMMUNICATION, a beautifully observed and meaningful story of intergenerational love and identity.

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