Does falling in love in our latter years get any easier compared to our youth? I wish. It should be simpler, right? But love is just as complicated no matter your age. That’s the premise behind director Frank Vitale and writer Gay Walley’s Erotic Fire of the Unattainable. Walley plays Gay, a successful novelist working on her next erotic thriller while navigating a string of relationships. Of course, all these relationships are happening simultaneously, which serves as inspiration for Gay’s stories.
Her current boyfriend is Steve (Steve Starr). Though they’ve been dating for a long time, he is set in his comfortable life as king of his domain. As a result, he resists having Gay live with him and disrupts his serenity. In addition, she is frustrated that Steve is continually hiring hot, young women as his live-in chefs. Steve is adamant that the live-in situation is entirely professional, but Gay’s not buying it.
Needing to finish her novel, Gay heads off the beach for much-needed solitude. This opportunity away from Steve allows her to hook up with former flame Big Daddy (David Graham) and later with literary agent Nelson (Craig Braun). Each encounter starts with a discussion of some aspect of love that Gay is pondering, followed by a sexual encounter, and then she returns to writing novels reflecting on each lover. As Gay narrates her thoughts in writing, Erotic Fire of the Unattainable takes on an engaging literary tone.
“Each encounter starts with a discussion of some aspect of love…followed by a sexual encounter, and then she returns to writing…”
There are a lot of interesting ideas at play here. Vitale’s film is best described as a structured improvisational story. There was no formal script. So, all the dialogue is entirely improvised. Overall, the story is essentially a series of conversations that start with casual chit-chat and flow into a deep exploration of some aspect of love explicitly missing pieces in Gay’s life.
Ironically, improvised conversations in cinema are hard to pull off because the intention is to make dialogue feel natural. But, it rarely does, usually giving off the sense that the actors are engaged in some acting exercises. This is true with Erotic Fire of the Unattainable, but Vitale and Walley understand what points they’re trying to get out of the conversations.
It’s these talks that are the strength of the movie. What does it mean to be in love in our 60s? It should be much simpler when we remove complications of pregnancy, birthing, and family. All that’s been done, so now you’re left with two people looking to make a connection. But the difficultly comes in the fact that habits and patterns for living are set in stone, and bringing someone in could disrupt our way of life in our later years. These disruptions are central to Gay’s journey as Steve, Big Daddy, and Nelson only fulfilled a part of her needs for being in a relationship and struggle to change this late in life keeps her from finding her soulmate, as it were.
Erotic Fire of the Unattainable is not a film that inherently has universal appeal. The story essentially only consists of people talking, much like My Dinner With Andre. I don’t actively seek out movies like this, but this works because of the fascinating subject matter.
"…works because of the fascinating subject matter."