“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,” declares Variety‘s Jay Weissberg. “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 Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney, too, finds Gerontophilia to be “a disappointment, especially since the movie gets off to an amusing start. A nurturer by nature, mellow pretty boy Lake (Pier-Gabriel Lajoie) is in a relationship with impassioned girlfriend Desiree (Katie Boland)… But clues suggest Lake has a taste for ripe old codgers, notably when he gets an awkward erection while resuscitating a geriatric swimmer at the pool…. Lake gets to knead sagging male flesh on a regular basis once his high-maintenance, boozy mother Marie (Marie-Helene Thibault) secures him a gap-year job as an orderly at the Coup de Coeur nursing home. The one patient in particular who turns his head is Melvyn Peabody, 81, a former theater actor played by Walter Borden with a grandiose touch of Maya Angelou.”
“It’s sweet stuff, sure,” writes Oliver Lyttelton at the Playlist, “but hampered by the performances. Borden is decent, especially when given good material to work with, but there’s little continuity between the bedridden old man and the cravat-wearing man-about-town. Still, it’s masterful next to Lajoie, who’s something of a vacuum of screen presence. He seems to be a touch hamstrung by the bilingual nature of the part, but that shouldn’t excuse how flat his line-readings are, or how little there seems to be to the character.”
“At one point LaBruce looks as if he may be taking the film into dark and more disturbing territory as Lake has a dream scene in which he snuggles in bed with Mr. Peabody and proceeds to lick and kiss open wounds on his back,” suggests Screen‘s Mark Adams, “but the film smartly pulls back and keeps on its more mainstream romantic May-to-December structure. Though challenging at times, there are no real surprises… apart from that fact that it is clear that Bruce LaBruce, the maker of cult films such as Hustler White, Skin Flick and L.A. Zombie, is a romantic at heart and more than capable of making a film beyond his usual borders.”
Update, 9/1: “Gerontophilia is engaging from the start and pleasingly non-judgemental of its protagonist’s peccadilloes,” writes Ashley Clark at the House Next Door. “However, it’s badly hamstrung by a wan central performance from the pretty but ineffectual Lajoie, and there are some terribly ham-fisted dramaturgical moments… Yet the overriding impression is of a sensitive, normalizing approach to a thorny subject, enlivened considerably by Broden’s sparky performance as the born-again Peabody.”
Update, 9/4: “More Gus Van Sant than Jack Smith, so reserved is Gerontophilia in comparison to every other one of LaBruce’s cinematic manifestos that it’s easy to lose perspective on how subversive it still is beneath its naive surface,” writes Blake Williams for Cinema Scope. “The tears are false, the performance is hammy, it’s all rather ridiculous, but it still hurts a little, and then you remember what makes LaBruce so special.”
Update, 9/12: Indiewire‘s Peter Knegt interviews LaBruce.
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