Attraction is a natural phenomenon. We’ve all fallen in and out of love, but there’s always been that one woman we could never ever forget in our lives. Perhaps it was just a teenage infatuation, but for some reason, we find ourselves obsessed with that one woman who personifies maturity, elegance and sensuality. Cougar refers to a woman seeking sexual involvement with a younger man (often even referred to as MILFs by young men). Now, this is something we’ve all seen in countless movies, which brings me to the focus of the article. In one of my older articles for The Cinemaholic, I had talked about movies that delve deep into Freud’s concept of Oedipus complex. This list is an extension of that, and we’ve tried to provide a lot more variety by adding movies of different styles and genres. Here’s a list of the top cougar movies of all time.
15. Adore (2013)
Perhaps one of the weirdest of them all, ‘Adore’ has a very experimental storyline comprising two older women and their sons and incidentally, the women fall for each others’ sons. Marginally incestuous, the narrative further explores their “relationships” which are nothing but hanging by a thread and the after-effects of their short-lived affair. As open-ended as the movie was at the conclusion, this guilt-free tale of two mothers and childhood friends Roz and Lil and their never-ending adoration for their mutual sons (even after the latter are married and have kids of their own) is unforgettable, to begin with, and was both praised and panned in various circles. Naomi Watts and Robin Wright are at their sultry best and their bolder demeanour isn’t worth a miss.
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14. Savage Grace (2007)
This true story based crime drama chronicles the incestuous relationship between a mother and her son. Julianne Moore, in one of her most memorable onscreen performances, plays Barbara Baekland, a troubled woman who tries to seduce her homosexual son in an attempt to “cure” him. While the film tends to go over-the-top at many places, it works mostly due to the central performances and Tom Kalin’s atmospheric directing style.
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13. La Luna (1979)
Renowned Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci is perhaps best known for his controversial 1972 erotic drama, ‘Last Tango in Paris’. But his 1979 drama has an even more disturbing, provocative storyline. It depicts the life of a teenage boy who is struggling with drug addiction. His mother, a renowned opera singer, does all she can to get him off his heroin addiction, but when everything fails, she decides to get sexually involved with him. ‘La Luna’ might not be among Bertolucci’s greatest works, but it’s still a very bold, powerful piece that manages to make a statement, and like most of the director’s works, it may repel you but it’s something you just can’t ignore.
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12. Ma Mere (2004)
To say that ‘Ma Mere’ is one of the most disturbing movies ever made might be a gross understatement. Few movies could ever come close to being as provocative, perverse and bold as this outrageous film. ‘Ma Mere’ depicts an incestuous relationship between a teenager and his mother, a 43-year-old widow. The woman gets her son involved in various sexual relationships and then eventually sleeps with him. While an incestuous relationship between a mother and her son may be something numerous filmmakers have explored before, ‘Ma Mere’ delves further deep into the darkest sides of human sexuality. The result is a shocking, psychologically damaging experience; one you are not likely to forget anytime soon.
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11. All Things Fair (1995)
‘All Things Fair’ is a film I had been wanting to watch for a long time, and I finally did, as part of my research for this article. Though this doesn’t really come anywhere close to being the best film of 1995, it’s one of the better films of the decade. Set during the Second World War, the film follows Stig, a 15-year-old boy who hopelessly falls in love with Viola, his biology teacher. As the two eventually start dating, Viola finds solace from her troubled relationship with her alcoholic husband. Complications further arise when Lisbet, Stig’s neighbour enter the picture, and the two get involved in a sexual encounter. The writing is quite layered and though the film meanders at places, the performances make up for it. One of the best cougar sex movies.
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10. Malena (2000)
This Italian romantic flick directed by Giuseppe Tornatore is set in a Sicilian town in the 40s, where a 12-year-old boy gets attracted to a beautiful woman named Malena. Though the film doesn’t really end up doing justice to its ambitions, it works mostly due to Tornatore’s unique vision and Monica Bellucci’s performance which salvages the movie from being just an ordinary flick. She’s irresistibly gorgeous, wildly charismatic, and her sensuous aura defines the tone of the film. ‘Malena’ is a film that must be watched for its rare, nostalgic feel and for the way it captures the intricacies of teenage infatuation.
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9. Murmur of the Heart (1971)
One of Louis Malle’s most underrated works, ‘Murmur of the Heart’ revolves around a teenager who develops a strong infatuation towards his mother. He spies on her mother while she’s in the bathtub and later, after they both get drunk one night, the two end up making love. Though the story may not seem very pleasant, Malle turns into an endearing experience, and his depiction of the relationship between the boy and his mother is warm and so full of affection. The film received highly positive reviews from critics, with most of them singling out Lea Massari for her performance.
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8. Blue Velvet (1986)
Alright, now this may seem like a controversial pick. ‘Blue Velvet’ is certainly not just a cougar flick, and to Lynchians it may even be blasphemous to have the film on the same list that features movies like ‘Saving Grace’ or ‘Ma Mere’. But to be honest, Jeffrey’s relationship with Dorothy is probably one of the most complex male-female relationships ever portrayed on-screen, and it defines the tone of the film. Jeffrey is curious about Dorothy’s life, he sympathizes with her, and delves deep into the darkest zones of her life. As he learns more about Dorothy, he realizes that it is difficult to get out of the mess and eventually, the two get involved in a violent sexual relationship. Lynch has written some of the most bizarrely fascinating characters and relationships, but this has to be the most memorable one of them all.
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7. I Am Love (2009)
An Italian film at the outset, ‘I Am Love’ revolves around the narrative of the Recchi family, a textile manufacturing giant based out in Milan. Emma is the wife of Tancredi Recchi, the wealthy magnate who is to inherit his paternal wealth from his predecessors. Emma stumbles upon Antonio, a chef who is the best friend of Eduardo, Emma’s son. Soon, Emma finds her ways to meet Antonio while they increasingly slip away into an intimate, physical relationship. Yet another Tilda Swinton’s movie on this list, wherein Swinton has essentially portrayed the older woman, ‘I Am Love’ is a cutting-edge melodrama and Swinton, as usual, has won us all over with her performance. Called as “fascinating” and “timeless” by many, ‘I Am Love’ is like a breath of fresh air.
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6. The Piano Teacher (2001)
Michael Haneke’s deeply disturbing pyscho-sexual drama tells the story of a middle-aged piano teacher who develops a violent sexual relationship with one of her students at the university. Isabelle Huppert, in what could probably be regarded as one of the greatest acting performances in the history of cinema, plays Erika Kohut in a way nobody could ever have, portraying all that seething rage and agony with astonishing ease. Walter, her student, is attracted to her right from the moment he first met her. She initially spurns his advances but he soon discovers the truth about her and uses her to vent his violent emotional and sexual fantasies. It’s certainly a painful film to watch; one that exposes the ugliest facets of the most beautiful of human emotions.
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5. The Reader (2008)
One of the most bizarrely beautiful love stories of the decade, ‘The Reader’ is a film that continues to haunt me. It’s a difficult film to watch, not just because of how the relationship between the central characters develops but because of its reasons. Winslet’s character is an illiterate, former Nazi concentration camp guard who is obsessed with books and literature. She satiates her desires by getting sexually involved with a 15-year-old boy and asking him to read bedtime stories after they make love. Soon, the boy learns about her disturbing past, and as you would expect, they separate. Winslet’s character ends up in prison and the boy later moves on with his life. Winslet delivers a remarkable performance, shedding her glamour off and getting into the skin of a character whose past haunts her in her sleep.
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4. Notes on a Scandal (2006)
A disturbing little film about a school teacher Barbara who falls for one of her teenage students Sheba, ‘Notes on a Scandal’ is, apart from its presentation style, nothing we haven’t seen in umpteen movies and television series. Soon, both start having a passionate affair. But things get complex when Barbara comes to know about Sheba’s affair with another teenager student named Steven. Given Barbara’s inhibitions on their affair and given Sheba’s stubbornness with maintaining both the sides of her relationship, ‘Notes on a Scandal’ is a performance intensive complicated affair in which nobody wins until the end. Blanchett is superb as the vulnerable teacher, knowing what she is doing is wrong, but then is stunned at the level of treachery the older woman, brilliantly played by Judi Dench who lashes out at her. It is a sensual film but it is also downright frightening at times.
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3. The Graduate (1967)
Arguably the greatest coming-of-age romantic drama ever made, ‘The Graduate’ tells the story of a 21-year-old Benjamin Braddock (played by an unforgettable Dustin Hoffman) who gets attracted to the sensual charisma of his father’s business partner’s wife. Eventually, things get complicated as he gets into an affair with the woman’s daughter. While parts of the film may seem slightly dated, Benjamin’s character is still relatable on many levels. At the time, the film received unanimous praise for its honest portrayal of the frailties of youth, and was the breakthrough role of Dustin Hoffman, who would later go on to be regarded as one of the greatest American actors of his generation.
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2. Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001)
Cathartic, intoxicating and infectious in its raw energy, ‘Y Tu Mama Tambien’ is not just a coming-of-age road flick of youth and self-discovery, but a poignant look at the dreams and desires of a nation struggling to discover its true identity and recover from its perennial political conflicts. It follows a two young men who set out on a bachelor’s trip along with an older woman to a secluded beach in Mexico. The journey liberates them in many different ways as they party, get drunk, make love and joke, but it’s a trip that would go on to have a lasting impact on their lives. The film was controversial for its explicit depiction of sex, nudity and drug use, but received widespread critical acclaim.
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1. A Short Film About Love (1988)
‘A Short Film About Love’, directed by the legendary Polish auteur Krzyzstof Kieslowski, depicts the relationship between a teenager and a promiscuous woman living in his neighborhood. He is curious about the woman’s life, her daily activities and it soon develops into an infatuation. However, complications further arise when he discovers that the woman does not believe in the concept of love. It’s a simple, beautiful love story told with heartbreaking honesty, as Kieslowski delves deep into the ineffable mysteries of the most intimate human emotion. Grazyna Szapolowska’s incredibly layered performance along with Zbigniew Preisner’s haunting score are highlights of the film.
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