You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Venice Film Review: ‘Gerontophilia’

This cross-generational romance sports a great title and a funny opening before going all limp.

Pier-Gabriel Lajoie, Walter Borden, Katie Boland, Marie-Helene Thibault, Yardly Kavanagh, Jean-Alexander Letourneau, Brian D. Wright. (English, French-Canadian dialogue)

Better camerawork and a lower gross-out factor than usual seem to have taken the oomph out of bad boy Bruce LaBruce, whose “Gerontophilia” sports a great title and a funny opening before going all limp. Generally the crown prince of taboos, LaBruce is only mildly outre in this story of a young man unexpectedly discovering he’s got a thing for granddaddies. Maybe if the actors had been coached to actually act, it would have come across better, but their painfully stilted delivery is leaden rather than campily artificial. The usual queer showcases will line up.

SEE ALSO: Film Review: Bruce LaBruce’s “L.A. Zombie”

The producers probably expected more considering LaBruce had a bigger budget than he’s used to (reportedly $2 million), and for the first time his content barely merits an R rating (if that).  Yet “Gerontophilia” isn’t likely to find a crossover audience, notwithstanding an uncharacteristic sweetness, as if he wanted to channel the kind of warmhearted gay vibes of a John Waters. The one semi-nauseating shot, with the teen licking an open bedsore, might discomfort the average indie crowd but won’t be enough to excite LaBruce’s hardcore fans.

Just out of high school, Lake (Pier-Gabriel Lajoie) has a g.f., Desiree (Katie Boland), who goes wild for women revolutionaries of the past (the opener, when she practically climaxes shouting out the names of questionable rebels like Lizzie Borden, Patty Hearst and Aileen Wuornos, gets the biggest LOL moment). He works as a lifeguard until he becomes aroused giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to an elderly man and decides he wants to be around old guys more often, so he takes a job as an orderly at a nursing home.

There he meets 81-year-old Melvyn Peabody (Walter Borden). Realizing Melvyn is being overmedicated, Lake conspires to hide his pills and suddenly the confused geezer becomes a charmer. The two start sleeping together, but when admin catches on, they dope Melvyn up again, forcing Lake to bundle him out of the home. In “Harold and Maude” style they embark on a road trip, during which Lake is forced to confront his green-eyed monster of jealousy.

Perhaps age is tempering some of LaBruce’s excesses, and while there’s something undeniably transgressive about a cross-generational romance of this span, it’s played for cuteness rather than to shake up bourgeois sensibilities. Smooth-flowing dialogue was never LaBruce’s forte (his last film, “L.A. Zombie,” was largely silent), but here the conversations are more wooden than the low-budget 1970s pics the helmer claims as stylistic inspiration. Newcomer Lajoie has a sweet smile yet doesn’t know what to do with his lines; he’s hardly alone.

Lensing is more professional than one usually sees in the director’s work, though slo-mo is overused. Always profligate with his music, LaBruce here relies too much on aural stimulus to maintain interest.

Popular on Variety

Venice Film Review: 'Gerontophilia'

Reviewed at Venice Film Festival (Venice Days), Aug. 28, 2013. (Also in Toronto Film Festival — Vanguard.) Running time: 82 MIN.


(Canada) A Filmoption Intl. presentation of a 1976 Prods., New Real Films production, with the participation of Telefilm Canada. (International sales: MK2, Paris.) Produced by Nicolas Comeau, Leonard Farlinger, Jennifer Jonas.


Directed by Bruce LaBruce. Screenplay, LaBruce, Daniel Allen Cox. Camera (color, HD, widescreen), Nicolas Canniccioni; editor, Glenn Berman; music, Ramachandra Borcar; production designer, Olivier Laberge; costume designer, Marilyne Garceau; sound, Tod van Dyk, Bruno Pucella, Isabelle Lussier; assistant director, Sinan Saber; casting, Guillaume Lambert, Paul Weber, John Buchan, Jason Knight.


Pier-Gabriel Lajoie, Walter Borden, Katie Boland, Marie-Helene Thibault, Yardly Kavanagh, Jean-Alexander Letourneau, Brian D. Wright. (English, French-Canadian dialogue)

More Film

  • Isabelle HuppertIsabelle Huppert Life Achievement Award,

    The Arcs Festival Taps Isabelle Huppert to Head The Talent Village For Young Helmers

    Guillaume Nicloux, the French director of “Valley of Love,” is set to preside over the jury of the Arcs Film Festival, while the iconic French actress Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) will be the patron of the second edition of the Talent Village. Created last year, the Talent Village is a development workshop and platform for emerging [...]

  • Isaac Perlmutter Disney Marvel

    Does Kevin Feige's Marvel Promotion Mean Ike Perlmutter's Endgame?

    Last week’s move giving Kevin Feige charge of Marvel’s television, animation and print editorial operations should come as no surprise. As the architect of the company’s enormous film success, Feige arguably has the most enviable track record of any contemporary entertainment executive. Extending his creative control over more of the Marvel universe seems like a [...]

  • Santa Barbara

    Anais Pareto Onghena Brings ‘Santa Barbara’ WIP to Impulso Morelia

    Having impressed at the Morelia Intl. Film Festival in the past with her short films, Spanish born, Mexican trained filmmaker Anaïs Pareto Onghena returns to the Michoacán capital with her latest feature “Santa Bárbara,” participating in the Impulso Morelia works in progress sidebar. Bárbara, a Bolivian woman living in Barcelona for more than a decade, [...]

  • Anna Movie

    EuropaCorp's U.S. Arm Gets Six-Month Debt Waiver From Paris Court

    EuropaCorp Films USA, the U.S. arm of Luc Besson’s Paris-based company, has been granted a six-month debt waiver from a French commercial court. Parent company EuropaCorp has already been on a six-month debt waiver since May, and the protection is supposed to come to an end in late November. A source close to the company [...]

  • Charles Tesson, Katrin Pors and John

    Morelia, Locarno Festivals Host Fifth Academy for Young Professionals

    Mexico’s Morelia Intl. Film Festival (FICM) and Locarno Academy are hosting the fifth edition of their joint academy for young professionals at this year’s festival, supported by the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE) and the Ibermedia program. The Morelia/Imcine-Locarno Intl. Industry Academy – it’s official name . counts as one of a series of Academies hosted [...]

  • THE IRISHMAN (2019)Ray Ramano (Bill Bufalino

    Middle East Premiere of Martin Scorsese's 'The Irishman' to Open Cairo Film Festival

    The Middle East premiere of Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” will open the Cairo Film Festival, which has assembled a rich lineup of international and Arabic titles for its 41st edition. “The Irishman” will screen in the Egyptian capital Nov. 20 prior to being dropped globally by Netflix onto its service Nov. 27. Scorsese’s mob epic [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content