TIFF Review: 'Gerontophilia'

(Canada, 90 min.)
Written and directed by Bruce LaBruce
Starring: Pier-Gabriel Lajoie, Walter Borden, Katie Boland, Marie-Hélène Thibault
Programme: Vanguard (North American Premiere)
Lake (Pier-Gabriel Lajoie) is a dirty old man trapped in a young buck’s body. Lake, a lifeguard, displays his preference for seasoned wood during his final rescue. He enjoys performing mouth-to-mouth on an elderly victim far too much, so he opts for work that requires less revealing swimwear. Hence, the retirement home where he meets Mr. Peabody (Walter Borden).

Lajoie brings an attractive innocence and naïveté that finds a good counterpart in Borden’s charming, laid-back take on Peabody. Peabody is both a cruising score and a parental-figure to the fatherless Lake. Their relationship feels slightly incestuous, but their vibe evokes an inside joke between soul mates.

Bruce LaBruce’s Gerontophilia has earned a moniker as the “gay Harold and Maude” at TIFF. It’s a fair likening. The oddity of Gerontophilia will please fans of the Hal Ashby film, which might be the quintessential odd-couple movie and/or hipster film. This queer Canuck movie, though, really calls to mind a homegrown rom-com from earlier this year: A sweet fable about a blossoming young man, Gerontophilia feels like the gay Old Stock if Stock boned everyone at Golden Seasons.

If Gerontophilia plays safe for a Vanguard selection, LaBruce’s balance of camp and conventionality nevertheless comments on the mainstreaming of queer culture through the playfulness with which he explores Lake’s behaviour. The Gandhi poster above Lake’s bed, for example, first suggests a charming political affectation, but then enjoys greater significance when Lake and his girlfriend, Désirée (TIFF Rising Star Katie Boland), are about to have sex. Désirée, fixated on revolution, lists all her top radicals as a kind of foreplay. Gerontophilia suggests that reform might not be as extreme as declaring, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Perhaps proclaiming one’s love for bespectacled wrinkly Gandhi is enough to spark a revolution.

Rating: ★★★ (out of ★★★★★)

Gerontophilia screens:
Monday, Sept. 9 at 10:30 pm at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 9:30 pm at Scotiabank 11
Friday, Sept. 13 at 12:15 pm at Scotiabank 3

Please visit www.tiff.net for more info on this year’s festival.