Sunday, March 31st, 2024

Queerguru’s Ris Fatah reviews TURTLES a Belgian queer comedy/drama about what happens when a 35 year old relationship is over


Divorce rates for couples over fifty have increased in recent decades, largely because it’s now more socially acceptable to be a single older person, and also because more older people are now financially and emotionally independent. Turtles, a new Belgian/Canadian comedy-drama by David Lambert, examines what happens when Brussels couple Thom (Dave Johns) and Henri’s (Olivier Gourmet) 35 -year romantic relationship breaks down.


The couple met in the early 1980s. Their song is Ottawan’s “Hands Up (Give Me Your Heart)”. Henri, however, is dismissive when, on his retirement from the police force, Thom presents him breakfast in bed whilst dancing and singing their song, dressed in a sexy outfit. Henri’s retirement has triggered depression in him and he spends his days shifting listlessly around their beautiful Brussels home, and not showing any real interest in anything, let alone Thom. Thom tries hard to engage with Henri but to no avail, and the couple end up rowing over the tiniest things. Hate uses up a lot more energy than love. Both guys start using Grindr for hook-ups but this complicates matters. Thom doesn’t give up in trying to save the relationship but Henri’s complete lack of empathy means the picture looks bleak and the divorce courts beckon.


Lambert’s quirky comedy take a deep dive into long-term queer relationships. Over 60s queers are often sidelined in film so it’s refreshing to see this demographic take centre stage, albeit not always in the most positive light. Johns and Gourmet are believable as the troubled couple and Brigitte Poupart give a strong supporting performance as Thom’s best friend, and fellow vintage market stall holder, Jenny. The trans actress/comedienne Vanessa Van Durme also shines as the sympathetic drag Madame of their favourite nightclub. Beautiful set design and art direction combine with comedic and tender moments to offset the heavy nature of the script. An interesting study in the passage of time – past, present and future.

TURTLES is screening at Boston's WICKED QUEER and Miami's OUTSHINE Film Fest 


Queerguru’s Contributing Editor Ris Fatah is a successful fashion/luxury business consultant  (when he can be bothered) who divides and wastes his time between London and Ibiza. He is a lover of all things queer, feminist, and human rights in general. @ris.fatah

Posted by queerguru  at  10:47

Genres:  comedy, dramedy, international

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