There have been a lot of movies made featuring May-December romances, but "White Palace" is unique among them. First of all, it turns the tables on the gender rules that apply to most by making the female the elder, and secondly, few of them are this real and honest.
Many saw this as a flip side to the blockbuster "Pretty Woman", and the comparison is valid to a certain extent but this is no fairy tale. James Spader and Susan Sarandon give multi-layered performances as two complex characters, and the screenplay refuses to take the easy way out. They don't have all the answers, and that's refreshing to see.
For Sarandon, Spader being embarrassed to introduce her to his friends is a huge sticking point, but at the same time you question whether or not she really wants to be put in that situation. The couple is happy enough together until they are forced to see their relationship through other people's eyes. Ted Tally has written a script full of tricky social commentaries such as that, the whole while building a credible connection between the two stars. You believe them as a couple despite their age and background differences, and the eroticism is definitely genuine as well.
The only element that sidetracks the film is the oddball appearance of Eileen Brennan as Sarandon's psychic sister. The only real purpose she serves is as a plot device to bring the two leads back together in an unfortunate happy ending that truly betrays the film. It feels as phony as the rest of the picture feels truthful. Until then, however, "White Palace" is a terrific film, full of honesty and certifiable emotions. The conclusion feels tacked on.