Gerontophilia, film review: A light-hearted tale of inter-generational desire
Sexual desire for the elderly tackled in Bruce LaBruce's new film, currently showing at London's LGBT festival
In our youth-obsessed culture, the idea of elderly people having sexual desire is almost taboo, so little does the idea make it into the storylines of films or television programmes. And while a fetish for leather or S&M is seen as kinky or adventurous, sexual desire for somebody 60 years older than you is seen by many as a sort of perversion.
This makes it just the topic to be tackled by Canadian director Bruce LaBruce in his latest film Gerontophilia, which is being screened during this year’s London LGBT Film Festival.
Meaning “love of old people”, the film stars Pier-Gabriel Lajoie as cute Quebecois Lake who, despite being in a relationship with a girl, finds himself attracted to much older men.
Chance brings Lake the opportunity of a job in an assisted care centre for the elderly, where the teenager strikes up a romance with octogenarian Melvyn Peabody (Walter Borden). This culminates in the two heading off on a road trip across the country as Lake decides to rescue Melvyn from the ill treatment and poor care he is receiving at the nursing home.
Pier-Gabriel Lajoie and Walter Borden in 'Gerontophilia'
It would have been very easy for this film to give inter-generational desire the freak-show treatment, and a scene early in the film, when Lake turns his gaze to look at an older man at a street corner did provoke some giggles in the audience.
But as Lake and Melvyn grow closer, and as Melvyn’s charming personality is slowly revealed throughout the film, their relationship no longer seems as unusual as it first appears. Later, when Lake confesses to his girlfriend that he “might have a fetish”, she asks him: “You mean like leather?” which he dismisses with: “ No, not that bad.” Quite right, Lake!
While Gerontophilia hints at serious issues in the way we treat our senior citizens, it keeps things light-hearted, with the high camp of Lake’s über-feminist girlfriend and his alcoholic mother providing the laughs. After all, just because we are watching a film about old people doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it.
LaBruce has never flinched from depicting the taboo world of alternative sexual tastes, which has meant that his films have tended to remain very much a mainstay of art-house film festivals or within the LGBT subculture.
It is rare that I would salute a predominantly underground director’s move towards mainstream filmmaking, but by toning down the sex and nudity of his previous works, LaBruce has made a film that I hope will be enjoyed by wide audiences in the months to come.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling