Essential Opinion: Gerontophilia

Taking a giant leap into the mainstream, avant-garde arthouse filmmaker, artist, and writer Bruce LaBruce successfully brings his provocative storytelling style to audiences worldwide.  LaBruce’s latest work, Gerontophilia follows the story of Lake, a young man who discovers he has a fairly uncommon fetish.  Lake is a gerontophile: a young person who sexually desires the elderly.  Remaining true to his roots, LaBruce manages to weave sexual taboo and fetishism into an otherwise mainstream drama.  And the result?  A captivating story of love, loss, and personal exploration.

The film opens with what appears to be an ordinary young man living an ordinary life in Toronto.  Lake, played by up and coming actor Pier-Gabriel Lajoie, has a part time job as a lifeguard at the community swimming pool.  He also has a girlfriend, Desiree (actress Katie Boland), who idolizes social and cultural revolutionaries.  However, Lake appears to be mildly unsettled in life; simply going through the motions day in and day out.

As time progresses, we find Lake discovering deep, religious connections with his own sexuality.  It is here where he unknowingly appears to foster a control of life over death.  As Lake performs CPR on a drowning senior citizen or gives an elderly care home patient a sponge bath, it is almost as though he is caressing a cadaver.  These old bodies are seemingly losing life until Lake performs his miracles, and experiences his own sexual gratification throughout the process.  Lake uses his loving touch to, in a sense, sexually resurrect the 81-year-old Mr. Peabody, a resident of the local senior care facility, essentially working the miracle of breathing new life into a dying man.

As the fetish becomes more and more prevalent in Lake’s life, we see a change occur. Mr. Peabody, reinvigorated by his relationship with Lake, seems to feel younger, more alive, and sexually recharged.  Lake, on the other hand, grows jealous, obsesses over his fetish (Mr. Peabody), and makes uncharacteristic sacrifices to defend it until (SPOILER WARNING!) the loss of Mr. Peabody releases Lake from his obsession.  Having to recognize death and literally bury his fetish, Lake is granted the freedom to fetishize another elderly man and restart the religious cycle of impermanence.

Despite being overshadowed at times by Pier-Gabriel Lajoie’s brilliant performance, actor Walter Borden delivers a lovable and emotional portrayal of Mr. Peabody throughout this film.  Mr. Peabody evolves in this story, beginning as an old, tired, and disinterested resident of the Cour de Couer and later becoming sexually-charged and full of vigor at the hands of young Lake.  Borden is convincing at both ends of this spectrum, making it easy to agree with LaBruce’s casting decisions.

Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, director Bruce LaBruce weaves a moving tale that grips the audience for the full ride.  An interesting departure from his past works, Gerontophilia proves LaBruce can deliver provocative storylines and introduce mainstream audiences to sexual taboo.

Read our interview with Bruce LaBruce

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All pictures reproduced courtesy of Tla Releasing

Dave Croyle

Dave Croyle

Dave Croyle is an advertising and marketing professional with a knack for building ideas and getting things done. Throughout his career he has written and produced creative work for a variety of brands, big and small. As a history buff and art geek, Dave is passionate about exploring cultures and seeing the world. Dave resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife and two dogs.