Canadian director Bruce LaBruce's Gerontophilia opened Wednesday at the Venice Film Festival.

The film follows a May-December romance between Lake (played by Pier-Gabriel Lajoie), a nursing home attendant just out of high school, and Melvyn Peabody (Walter Borden), an 81-year-old patient at the home.

France24's Jon Frosch called the film “likeable” but flawed.

“As likable as it is, Gerontophilia is too vaguely sketched, too clumsy and eager to make an impact,” Frosch wrote. “But given that film festivals often find directors competing to see who can be the most outre, it's refreshing to see someone take a shocker of a premise and soften it with humor and heart.”

Variety's Jay Weissberg said the film went limp after a funny opening. Both reviewers criticized the film's acting.

“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,” Weissberg wrote.

Both agreed that the film – given its director and title – was surprisingly sweet. (The film's trailer is embedded on this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

LaBruce's last film, L.A. Zombie, was censored in Australia for including gay porn scenes, and his 1996 film Hustler White, which featured Madonna's then-boyfriend Tony Ward as a male prostitute, stirred controversy with a graphical, cringe-inducing amputee sex scene.