Lake (Pier-Gabriel Lajoie) leads a seemingly simple life content with his girlfriend Desiree (Katie Boland) and putting up with his wayward mother (Marie-Helen Thibault). When he gets a job at a nursing home, Lake soon begins to realise something about himself; he’s sexually attracted to old men. As he explores his increasing fixation, Lake becomes close to Mr. Peabody (Walter Borden) one of the men he cares for. The two quickly form a strong bond inspiring Lake to go on a road-trip with Melvyn leaving his family and his life behind.
Gerontophilia is the latest film from writer/director Bruce La Bruce and it explores a subject that you don’t often see in movies. You’d be forgiven for thinking perhaps the subject matter could be controversial and even seedy but once you watch the film you find yourself impressed with how well handled it all is. The film does make for slightly uncomfortable viewing to begin with as Lake realises his fetish and pleasures himself as an elderly man does the same.
Once the shock of the subject matter subsides, Gerontophilia turns into an interesting and at times rather sweet movie. It’s part road movie, part human drama and it’s got a surprising amount of heart. We would never have expected to be moved by the movie but we were and the story unfolds at nice pace always keeping you intrigued as to what is coming next.
One of the things that we didn’t quite believe about the movie is how easily Lake accepts his new-found sexual desire and is quite willing to just abandon his girlfriend and family. There’s no struggle that he goes through or even a suggestion that he’s really all that bothered by what he’s doing. The storyline progresses matter of factly and it would have a bit stronger if there had been some struggle along the way.
Instead the focus lies on the relationship between Lake and Mr. Peabody which becomes a battle for control when jealousy rears its ugly head and not in the way you would probably expect it. It’s an interesting turn and it completely changes the dynamic between the two.
The strength of the movie lies in the performances of Pier-Gabriel Lajoie and Walter Borden. The two actors embrace the unusual subject matter and form a believable chemistry. Their transition from carer and patient to argumentative couple happens quickly but both actors make it feel authentic. Borden in particular shines as Mr. Peabody, an 81-year-old man who had considered his life all but over until he met Lake.
Gerontophilia is an unusual film that is more emotive and sweet than you would expect given its subject matter. It’s by no means a perfect film but LaBruce should be commended for tackling something taboo with such care. At the heart of the movie there’s the message that love knows no bounds and sometimes when two people meet their age is nothing more than a number.