A film is released today which stars four female characters all in their forties. One hits her fiftieth birthday during the action. The actress who plays her is 51. The other actresses really are in their forties, not 23 year olds with prosthetics. It was its female audience which made Sex in the City, not studio executives. Women of all ages watched it. It contains a character which I don't think had ever been seen on screen before, the single, financially independent vamp.
Kim Cattrall has her number:
But is her vamp persona realistic at the the age of 51? "It depends on where you live," says Cattrall. And on what you look like. "It also depends on your financial security. She's a very successful woman, and she takes care of herself."
The vamp understands the power of her sexuality. She gets the idea that it's not just looks, hormones, but the manipulation of a whole appearance through clothes, scent, jewels. This role has usually been taken by the mistress, the manhunter (think Rita Hayworth in Gilda), occasionally by those with inherited wealth. The potency of the single, sucessful city-dweller who insists on taking her pleasure on her own terms is a new creation.
Not of course one than many of us can emulate, but in an age of the sixty-something Harrison Ford reprising Indiana Jones, we at long last have the older women come to centre stage, at least in fiction. Good.