The Companion (2010) – By Matthew Saliba

It’s always refreshing to watch a film that tackles a taboo subject and nothing could be more taboo that the prospect of a film which explores the sexuality of geriatrics. If you went by the logic put forth by Hollywood, peoples’ sexual appetites are satiated by the time they hit 30 and to compensate for their asexuality, they take up other habits such as narrating documentaries about penguins marching. Thankfully with "The Companion," director Oisin Mac Coille has the courage to tell a story which explores an oft-ignored aspect of human sexuality.

Maggie (Joan Gildea) is paid a visit by a soldier on leave (Jude Quigley) for a little romp in the sack. The only problem is the glaring age difference between the pair. However, that’s nothing a glass of red wine can’t fix and before too long they head upstairs for their rendition of the horizontal mambo. We don’t actually see the sexual act but we do see the young man leave her place and as he does, we’re introduced to an older man (Stephen O Connor) who is Maggie’s husband. He confronts Maggie about this and by doing so, we’re given a glimpse into the inner angst and guilt he feels as we learn he’s unable to sexually satisfy his wife. Ironically enough, the idea that his wife is a whore excites him to the point where they head upstairs themselves and engage in some artfully shot coitus. During snuggle-time, Maggie informs him that she didn’t sleep with the young man because her husband is the only man she loves. This then leads to the proverbial ambiguous indie film ending where we see the husband give the young man some money and then walk off. I say ambiguous insofar as the obvious interpretation would be that overcome with guilt over not being able to please his wife, the husband paid off this guy to plough his wife. But when the end credits roll, we learn that the names of the male characters are "Older Ben" and "Younger Ben." Now either Barry Graham (the writer of the film) is either the laziest writer around or there’s something more to this. It’s really left up to you.

"The Companion" is a lovely film that’s beautifully shot and filled with some real solid performances, particularly from "Older Ben" (Stephen O Connor). In a genre that all too often relies on static cinematography, it was refreshing to see director Oisin Mac Coille use several instances of dolly shots that were smooth and purposeful. While the whole ambiguous ending is starting to become a really bad cliche in indie films, it did get me thinking a lot about the film and what the filmmaker was trying to say about sexuality and relationships and at the end of the day, getting your audience to debate the subtext of your film is a major accomplishment in of itself.

The film is available to view online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSfdNt0R4z0