As the LGBT community ages, queer elders are increasingly becoming subjects of movies with acclaimed features including 2021’s “Swan Song” and 2019’s “Two of Us” and “Twilight’s Kiss,” among the examples.
You can also add “Moon Manor” (Knife Rock Productions), the debut feature from female filmmaking duo KnifeRock (Machete Bang Bang and Erin Granat), to the list.
Inspired by much of the never-dull life lived by 80-something gay activist and performer Jimmy Carrozo, the fictional “Moon Manor” features Carrozo playing a character based on himself. The dramatized Jimmy has invited an assortment of guests to his “FUN-eral,” a celebration of his life on the night of his planned assisted suicide. His Alzheimer’s disease is advancing at a faster pace than he can tolerate, and he doesn’t want to become a burden.
Among those invited are a neighborhood shop clerk, a neighbor and her young daughter, old friends, new friends, Ricki Lake (whom Jimmy met on a cruise), and an estranged family member, among others. Also present are Jimmy’s devoted caregiver Remy (Reshma Gajjar), protective death doula Fritti (Debra Wilson), and Andrew (Lou Taylor Pucci), an obituary writer who wants to do a feature story about Jimmy.
In the hours leading up to the event — “like a funeral, but it’s fun” — Jimmy also encounters a gigantic sparkly being that telepathically identifies itself to him as his “Intuition.” It’s unclear whether this vision is related to his recreational drug use — both past and present. Additionally, Jimmy experiences a series of childhood and adolescence flashbacks, as well as an especially significant one in which he met Ricky, his late partner of almost 20 years, at an audition for a production of “Hair” in 1968.
The only disruption to Jimmy’s carefully planned last day is the church van parked in front of his house in which Gordon (Richard Riehle) and Terry (Galen Howard) are stationed to mount a protest against Jimmy’s suicide. The scenes with the duo provide much of the movie’s comic relief. Also delivering a fair share of laughs are party planner/club kids Juana (Roz Hernandez) and Nox (Kit DeZolt), who bring decorations and sparkly attire.
Most of what we learn about Jimmy’s fascinating past — including his career selling real estate on the moon, as well as creating the popular line of Moonie Baby toys — occurs while Andrew is interviewing him.
When things turn serious, following the toasts and praising of Jimmy, “Moon Manor” respectfully depicts the euthanasia process. “Moon Manor” is obviously a labor of love. Granat was the niece of Jimmy’s romantic and creative partner Ricky, and this project feels like a loving tribute, if an uneven one at that.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of seven books including the expanded edition of his short story collection How to Whistle (Rattling Good Yarns Press, 2021). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.