FIRST-TIME DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER STEVEN LORING HAS ROARED OUT OF THE GATE with The Age of Love, a bright and respectfully playful feature that throws a spotlight on an unsung population segment: senior citizens, seeking companionship, romance and maybe more. Local audiences who haven’t already bought tickets currently have one chance to see this movie – some seats are still available for the 6:30pm show tonight at the Little Theatre, 240 East Ave. in Rochester. Consider it highly recommended.
Loring, a Brighton native, used a local occasion as the nexus for his honest and occasionally hilarious debut feature. The film, which centers around a 2011 speed-dating event that was organized exclusively for seniors, profiles roughly a dozen men and women before and during the session – and then follows a few of the newly created couples as they tentatively approach their first dates.
First, though, we get to know the subjects including Addie, a free spirit and world traveler looking to find a spark with a new partner; Lou, an octogenarian bodybuilder who’s unsure of what an age-appropriate dating pool looks like; Matt, a pragmatist who carries an oxygen tank and is hopeful about finding a new partner; and Donna, who sips beer out of a “Grandma” cup with equal parts appreciation and irony.
These seniors and the others profiled in the film are given plenty of room to muse on the immutability of romantic longing – just because they’re older doesn’t mean they don’t have the same needs, wants and desires as women and men half their age. To his credit, Loring doesn’t patronize – he brings a humanist’s eye to the plight of these folks who didn’t expect to find themselves alone at this point in their lives, and who approach the upcoming speed-dating event with a mix of hopefulness and guarded indifference.
The big day itself is oddly anticlimactic and occasionally frustrating, as the attendees move through their designated seat assignments with an amiable awkwardness that’s probably present at any speed-dating session. (At any age, moving around a room in a carefully choreographed fashion to briefly flirt with different prospective partners has got to be an unnerving experience.)
But the film’s most honest and emotionally moving moment comes later, when the filmmaker reconnects with his subjects to be there with a camera and record their reactions to getting the news about which attendees they’ve been matched with. Their nervousness is palpable, and we find we’ve really come to root for these people – we want their envelopes to bring good news, on their terms.
Audiences from our area may find a familiar face or two, and the settings will ring a bell. But The Age of Love isn’t some geographic curiosity – this thoughtful doc should play equally well to any age and any ZIP code. Like its subjects, it deserves to have audiences fall in love with it.