We all know what a book club is; many of us have been in one at some point during our lives. The film Book Club features four iconic actresses, all of a certain age: Diane Keaton, Candace Bergen, Jane Fonda, and Mary Steenburgen. Prior to the film I saw the coming attractions for Mama Mia 2, which features 68 year old Meryl Streep and 72 year old Cher, wearing a blonde wig a la Lady Gaga. Combined, the film and preview made roles for older actresses seem more robust than they probably are.
Watching these four women work is reason enough to see the film. The plot line is a little thin: they are all professionally successful, vibrant, healthy, gorgeous, and live in classy homes with great kitchens. They’ve been meeting in a book club together for decades and drinking a lot of wine. They read 50 Shades of Grey, and discover their hidden sexual frustrations. They put themselves out there, and discover — or rediscover — men who are handsome, rich, supportive, healthy, patient, and available. By the end each is hooked up, or about to be. Who knows what will become of the west coast hotel Jane Fonda’s character owns and manages after she reclaims her east coast love of 40 years ago. It seems not to matter.
This is not exactly the feminist mystique, and it’s not exactly the real lives of most older women I know. Louise and I went to the film together. Her thought was that movies are supposed to create aspiration, a vision of what’s possible for women our age. Perhaps that’s true.
The film stirred up a lot of feelings, even though it’s not a great movie. Since Jerry died in 2002 I’ve made no effort to be “out there”, despite entreaties from friends that I’d find online hookups a lot of fun. Since eligible men don’t fall from trees, I haven’t met any. The film didn’t spur me to Google “best online dating sources for older women”, but at least it made me wonder what I’m missing.