TIFF 2013: Gerontophilia – Bruce La Bruce

 

I wanted to see this one primarily because the lovely and talented Katie Boland is in it, and additionally because there really aren’t many films out there which examine the gerontophilia fetish – certainly not from such an intimate and beautiful standpoint, at any rate. As director Bruce La Bruce stated during the Q&A after the screening, the fetish comes first and foremost in this tale, but at the end of the day, it’s also a love story at heart – and a romantic comedy of sorts.

Young Lake (Pier-Gabriel Lajoie) slowly discovers that he seems to have a fetish for elderly people – primarily men. His mother is kind of a mess when it comes to dating and relationships, and his girlfriend, Desiree (Katie Boland), is in love with people (primarily women) who she sees as revolutionary in some way. After an incident at a pool where guy is lifeguarding, his mom lands him a job at a care facility for the elderly, and things kind of take off quickly for him from there. He meets, pursues and eventually falls in love with Mr. Peabody (Walter Borden), a resident whose son doesn’t visit much at all, and who appears at times to be far too medicated by the doctors and nurses responsible for his care. Concerned for Mr. Peabody’s health, Lake breaks him out of the nursing home, loads him into his car, and makes for the Pacific so that Peabody can dip his toes into the ocean once more. It’s a long drive across the country, however, and the unlikely pair continue to grow their relationship, even as events continue to unfold which stand in the way of their being together.

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I found it hard to buy into Gerontophilia for the first while as, to me, the desire to have sex with someone comes from a place of knowing and liking the object of my affection. I wouldn’t sleep with any woman just because I’m gay, nor would I want to – the attraction comes from our interactions with one another, and is strongest usually if I feel the other person is attracted to me in particular. So watching this young guy ogle every older person just because they are old made it difficult for me to relate to him. Additionally, Lake’s need for sexual encounters regardless of who they were with seemed superficial to me – almost dangerous, even, as though he couldn’t walk down a street without mentally raping every old person who crossed his path. For me, there’s always been a difference between attraction and the NEED to fulfill it.

Later on in the film, however, it was apparent that Lake and Peabody were actually falling in love with one another, and it was a mutually beneficial relationship – as much as it could be for two fellas on the road, at least. Also, as an actor, Lajoie in particular has such an earnest, expressive face that one couldn’t help but buy into his character completely. He was easy to empathize with – relate to – and it was that open and honest quality that pulled the whole film together for me in the end. Plus – did I mention Katie Boland? That girl is positively hypnotic every moment she spends on screen, so even if she’d been the only thing I enjoyed about the film, it would have been enough. However, incredibly strong and brave performances from Lajoie and Borden also worked to elevate this gentle and gorgeous film.

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