by Chris Parry
Women enjoy sex, and older women still enjoy sex. That's the message behind Still Doing It, and it's certainly a valid message. But as this film takes an indepth look at the lives of nine women aged 65 to 87, from all walks of life, two things become very clear. Firstly, that we should be ashamed of ourselves that we cringe when older people get romantic in public. Secondly, that regardless of the shame we feel, we're still gonna cringe regardless.Single, straight, married, gay, black, white - documentarian Deirdre Fishel talks to them all in her pursuit of the reality behind mature age sex, and what she discovers makes for interesting viewing. From women who have rediscovered their sexual selves when most people are preparing for nursing home care, to women over 65 who are involved in relationships with men thirty years their junior, it's clear that society as a whole discriminates more against the sexually active aged than they do any other sector of society. You can be gay, you can be bi, you can be into whips and chains, you can marry your cousin, but if you're 72 and getting nightly action from a 32 year old, people are going to call it sick.
"A brave documentary with a fatal flaw."
Perhaps I should correct that - if you're a 72 year old WOMAN and you're getting action from a 32 year old MAN, then people take issue. If the older party is a man, nobody really does more than roll their eyes and snicker.
So what exactly is society's problem? If older men can have young women on their arm, why can't an older woman have a younger guy? And if the consenting adults are both of age, and opt to be very public with their affections, why shouldn't they be able to without us younger folk 'getting all up ins'?
All valid food for thought, and definitely a topic that warrants discussion, but unfortunately Still Doing It goes a step further than it needs to in an effort to shock us into changing our ways. With abundant footage of older women laying about in swimsuits, posing naked, or even showering with full frontal exposure, the result tends to poke the audience in the chest and say, "See? Natural! Deal with it!"
Of course, this is a tactic that could well work with some, but one tends to think that, even if you get the message, you're likely to object to the way it's being shoved at you. Personally, I can deal with seeing older flesh on screen, and nothing shown in Still Doing It is in any way done for the sake of titillation, but it's just toooo in your face, toooo 'we know best' and toooo 'if you can't take this, there's something wrong with you'. To put it another way, if you're making a documentary about how interracial couples are being discriminated against wrongly, do you show said couples together naked, in a shower?
Perhaps to shock wasn't the intention of the filmmakers, but it's certainly the effect that the film has on an average audience. The question for you, the potential viewer, is whether you want to see a documentary that will jar you and force you to either change your view or feel awful for not doing so. On the other hand, if the film had taken a different tack, and maybe not been so 'in your face', it may well have been more effective as a tool of changing people's attitudes.
Quite simply, yes, there is an age-ism problem in our society, and that combines with sexism to put older female women who wish to continue enjoying their bodies, on the outer with the youth-obsessed, male-centric general population. But the way to change that is not through shock, but reason - not through force, but coercion. Fishel does wonderfully well in portraying her subjects as people who deserve our attention and consideration, but perhaps the documentarian is too close to the subject matter, for she blows that early cred by just going hard until there's truly nothing left to say.A film that could be very important to certain people in the population, it's downfalls unfortunately make it just too unpalatable for those who most need to hear the message.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9067&reviewer=1
originally posted: 06/12/04 18:15:43