My Gay Tortonto - We Recommend

in praise of older queens

BY Drew Rowsome

I think there may be something wrong with me. I think I might have a fetish.
Like leather?
Not that bad.

Gerontophilia is an amiable rom-com wherein an innocent young man who works in a nursing home falls in love with a resident. Writer/director Bruce LaBruce is, as Wikipedia says, known for a,

filmmaking style marked by a blend of explicitly pornographic depictions of sex with more conventional narrative and filmmaking techniques, as well as an interest in extreme topics which mainstream audiences might dismiss as shocking or disturbing taboos. For instance, his films have depicted scenes of sexual fetish and paraphilia, BDSM, gang rape, racially-motivated violence, amputee fetishism, male and female prostitution, and zombie and vampire sexuality.

The sex may be soft core but the chemistry between the leads and LaBruce's gentle touch makes the romance plausible and does a great service to all gay men of a certain age. Though Pier-Gabriel Lajoie's status as a former model makes him a prime physical specimen, his attraction, emotional and sexual, to Walter Borden's Mr Peabody feels genuine and actually enviable. When we finally see them lock lips and stroke skin, there is heat that burns.

Borden has been deservedly nominated for a Jutra Award. Mr Peabody is that delightful confident elderly gay man who veers to the edge of camp but has too much dignity to topple over. It is the king of character that, in a better world, we would see more of: a gay man who is more than a wisecracking comic foil or a set of abs masquerading as eroticism. When Mr Peabody talks of his past or sonorously recites poetry, his age becomes a thing of beauty.

The entry also makes sure to emphasize that the pornographic aspects are usually gay. Gerontophilia makes for a complete change of direction but in doing so is probably more radical and shocking than anything else LaBruce has done.

Careful not to bruise the gin. Old men and gin bruise so easily.

That Lajoie is frequently sans shirt is most welcome but he also achieves a naturalistic characterization that papers over the many plot holes. There is an easy charm lurking in his eyes that somehow communicates his love for the elderly Mr Peabody in a way that makes us feel it as well. He even manages to convince us of a jealous streak that is curiously unmotivated other than Lajoie successfully embodies the contradiction.

Gerontophilia as a whole is carefully tasteful. LaBruce plays with the conventions of road movies, romances, after school specials, melodrama and Canadian film, without ever committing to anything other than the simple sweet story. Even when the previously chilly mise en scène - which quite possibly is a subtle satire on every earnest Canadian film ever made - is supplanted by the lurid colours of a gay bar, the pacing is deliberate and contemplative. There are no cheap laughs, no shock moments, and Gerontophila could, and should, play comfortably for audiences of all ages, creeds and sexualities.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the presence of Patricia Wilson who is typecast as the bartender who breaks up the climactic fight. The laissez-faire pacing and languid editing don't do her line readings any favours, but she is a luminous presence on screen and a remarkable beauty. Let's hope that as a trade-off for her turning a cameo into a scene-stealing role, LaBruce works his magic on a Crackpuppy video.
In a stroke of conceptual brilliance, LaBruce has made an ageless film about love never aging.

Gerontophilia is available to stream and on DVD.