IN HER 2014 BOOK Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty, Diane Keaton, now 72, gives a shoutout to “women who make us see beauty where we never saw it; women who turn wrong into right.” It’s a declaration that could also serve as the tag line for her new film Book Club (May 18) in which she stars alongside Candice Bergen, 71, Jane Fonda, 80, and Mary Steenburgen, 65, as four friends who jump-start their love lives after reading the sexually charged 50 Shades of Grey (conveniently, Fifty Shades Freed, the final instalment of the film franchise based on the book, arrives on DVD just days before Book Club’s release). Portrayed as healthy, vigorous and ready to frolic under the sheets, the movie doesn’t play the actresses’ ages against them. Instead, they’re objects of desire, curiosity and passion with a capital A appetite for life. The same can be said for another recent flick, Finding Your Feet, wherein 62-year-old Imelda Staunton’s character rebounds from marital infidelity by joining a community dance class.
In Book Club, the enlivened libidos represent a renewed sense of purpose and vigour. And while the popularity of movies about older characters has surged with the aging population, from comedies like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films to The Expendables franchise to dramas like Away From Her and Amour, rarely do they spotlight strong older women as objects of (nonfetishized) sexual desire. Perhaps Book Club and its all-star cast can bolster the demand for such movies in the way Moonlight, Get Out and Black Panther have for unexploitative films about people of colour. And maybe, to paraphrase Keaton, these four Book Club women can make Tinseltown finally see beauty where it rarely saw it before.