Gerontophilia goes Harold and Maude with a same-sex twist
Starring Pier-Gabriel Lajoie and Walter Borden. In English and French, with English subtitles. Rated 14A.
Veteran bad boy Bruce LaBruce (Hustler White, Super 8½), who recently turned 50, goes almost mainstream in this Harold and Maude with a same-sex twist.
The Warholian Pier-Gabriel Lajoie is suitably beautiful as the main character, called Lake. Even if his English is fairly phonetic, this Montreal dude’s a fabulous artist, nifty skateboarder, and all-round good soul. There’s a significantly huge photo of Mahatma Gandhi above his bed. In fact, he’s called a saint by girlfriend Desiree (Katie Boland), who recites the names of feminist icons while they make out. And the filmmaker puts an almost religious aura around Lake’s fluid sexuality. This fluidity moves in multiple directions, as when Desiree gets hit on by the John Waters–like boss at the bookstore where she works and by the hard-ass bass player in an all-female metal band.
The acting, especially in supporting roles, is amusingly wooden (Ed Wooden, you could say), and most of the dialogue is woefully underdeveloped. But Gerontophilia picks up when Lake, hired at a busy retirement facility, meets the mildly queeny Mr. Peabody, a retired actor played by much-lauded theatre veteran Walter Borden. Soon they’re drinking vodka in their underwear, which somehow does not lead to Lake’s immediate termination. Trouble comes when Desiree sees his nude-skewed sketchbook and starts grasping what he barely understands. And once Lake gets Mr. Peabody into his Wayback Machine and takes the old-timer out into the world, young men inexplicably pester him wherever he goes, bringing out Lake’s nonsaintly side.
LaBruce fans will be either alarmed or pleased to see him move up to a more professional level, with clever shooting and editing, sweet-tempered travel-montage sequences, and a souped-up soundtrack. The movie emphasizes Canadiana, literary and musical. So why does he show American money changing hands? If that’s being subversive, it’s the most subtle thing in the movie.