21 Best Mainstream Cougar Movies of All Time

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 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. There are some great movies that delve deep into Freud’s concept of the 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 under the subject of cougar movies.

21. Chéri (2009)

Directed by Stephen Frears, the rom-com stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Stephen Frears, Rupert Friend, and Kathy Bates. Based on the ‘Chéri’ novel series by French author Colette, the movie is set in early 20th century Paris and revolves around the unlikely romantic affair between young Fred Peloux, nicknamed Chéri, and Léonie Vallon aka Léa de Lonval, his mother’s colleague who is a high-class prostitute past her prime. As the romance flourishes, unbeknownst to Chéri’s mother, she arranges her son’s marriage with another woman his age. Will this be the end of the 6-year relationship? You can stream the film here to find out.

20. Prime (2005)

This Ben Younger directorial stars Uma Thurman, Meryl Streep, and Bryan Greenberg. The movie is set in modern-day Manhattan and centers on 37-year-old divorced Rafi Gardet, who falls for 23-year-old Jewish guy David and vice-versa. However, she has her insecurities regarding the age gap and their different backgrounds, something she shares with her therapist, Dr. Lisa Metzger. While Lisa helps her overcome her insecurities and supports her, she soon finds out that the guy Rafi is in love with is her son and an ethical dilemma strikes. Will this change things among the trio, and how? You can stream the movie here.

19. Young Adam (2003)

This is an erotic drama directed by David Mackenzie and starring Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton, Peter Mullan, and Emily Mortimer. It centers on a young drifter named Joe who works on a barge and is having an affair with the sailor’s wife, Ella, one that is propelled by carnal pleasures. However, when the dead body of a young woman is found in the waters, it is revealed Joe is connected to it, which only hints at his dark past that involves his former flame, Cathie Dimly.

18. The Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom (2014)

Directed by John L’Ecuyer, ‘The Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom’ aka ‘La Vida Secreta De Una Madre Soltera’ stars Ashley Jones, Sonia Maria Chirila, Evan Brzozowski, and Scott Gibson. It centers on Delaine, who divorces her abusive husband and decides to explore the realm of online dating. In the endeavor, she comes across a dom addressed as The Duke who wants to create alpha females and helps her realize what was missing in her life, especially sexually, and in the process, realize her true potential.

17. Caught (1996)

Directed by Robert M. Young, ‘Caught’ is an erotic drama that stars María Conchita Alonso, Edward James Olmos, and Edward Pomerantz. The story revolves around a married couple, Joe and Betty, who are trying to make do with their retail fish store. Their son is away for work, which is why when the couple hires Nick for a job at the store, he gets to stay in Danny’s room. While Joe is happy with Nick’s work, Betty, too, takes a liking to him, a feeling that is reciprocated and propelled by sexual passion. To see how things turn out, you may stream the film here.

16. The Boy Next Door (2015)

Rob Cohen is the director of this erotic thriller starring Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Guzman. It explores the unlikely friendship between recently separated literature teacher Claire Peterson, who lives with her teenage son, and their new neighbor Noah. Claire knows that Noah likes her and is attracted to her, and one night, her neglected self gives in to his advances. However, when realization dawns upon her about the wrong and wants out, Noah snaps and reveals his true identity, which is underscored by a dark past. What is that? To find out, you can stream the movie here.

15. Adore (2013)

Directed by Anne Fontaine, ‘Adore’ stars Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville. Taboo takes a mutual form in this flick as we see two best friends/mothers sleep with each other’s son. Amidst multiple he-sleeps-with-her and she-sleeps-with-him, they find themselves in an emotional vacuum from which there seems to be no escape as they have, in breaking down the walls of sexual exploration, torn the string of relationships that binds them together. The film is based on the 2003 novella ‘The Grandmothers’ by British writer Doris Lessing. You can stream the movie here.

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 in many places, it works mostly due to the central performances and Tom Kalin’s atmospheric directing style. You can stream the film here.

13. Luna (1979)

Renowned Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci is perhaps best known for his controversial 1972 erotic drama, ‘Last Tango in Paris.’ But this 1979 drama, also known as ‘La Luna,’ 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. Like most of the director’s works, it may repel you, but it’s something you just can’t ignore.

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 deeper into the darkest sides of human sexuality. The result is a shocking, psychologically damaging experience, one you are not likely to forget anytime soon.

11. All Things Fair (1995)

Though this doesn’t 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 in her troubled relationship with her alcoholic husband. Complications further arise when Lisbet, Stig’s neighbor, enters 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. You can check out the movie here.

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 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 and 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. You can stream the film here.

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 with 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 full of affection. The film received highly positive reviews from critics, with most of them singling out Lea Massari for her performance. You may watch the film here.

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. You can watch ‘Blue Velvet’ here.

7. I Am Love (2009)

A romantic drama directed by Luca Guadagnino, the film stars Tilda Swinton, Alba Rohrwacher, Jimmi Carlos Zuniga Macias, Giangaleazzo Visconti di Modrone, and Edoardo Gabbriellini. It showcases the affair between Russian woman Emma Recchi, married to industrialist Tancredi Recchi with three children, and a chef named Antonio, who works at the restaurant that one of Emma’s sons has partnered in. With the family business about to undergo a radical change in its power structure, something that has got the family divided, the last they need is an affair that poses a threat to their very reputation. To see what happens, you can stream the film here.

6. The Piano Teacher (2001)

Michael Haneke’s deeply disturbing psycho-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. You may watch it right here.

5. The Reader (2008)

‘The Reader’ is one of the most bizarrely beautiful love stories of the decade. 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 and getting into the skin of a character whose past haunts her in her sleep. You may watch ‘The Reader’ here.

4. Notes on a Scandal (2006)

Starring Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench, and Andrew Simpson, this drama explores the relationship between veteran teacher Barbara Covett and new art teacher Sheba Hart. While Sheba’s arrival brings good news for Barbara as she now has someone she can talk to and likes to hang out with, the revelation that Sheba, a married woman with two kids, is having an affair with a fifteen-year-old boy makes Barbara use the information to her own advantage. But to what end? What will she gain from this? To find out what’s on her mind, you can stream the film here.

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. You can check out the film here.

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 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. You may stream it here.

1. A Short Film About Love (1988)

‘A Short Film About Love,’ directed by the legendary Polish auteur Krzysztof Kieslowski, depicts the relationship between a teenager and a promiscuous woman living in his neighborhood. He is curious about the woman’s life and 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. You can stream it here.

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