A 30-something year old man, on the heels of a breakup with his boyfriend, moves in with his parents who live in a 55+ adult community. Through confronting his own insecurities and examining family relationships and dynamics, he's able to move forward.
Director: Michelle Bossy
Writers: Susan-Kate Heaney, Peter Sabri
CAST: Adrienne Barbeau, Elaine Goodnoe, Philipp Maximilian
Early Retirement is a film about wanting to be seen and accepted by our families, despite our differences. Our hero, a 30-something gay man named Alex has broken up with his boyfriend during the height of Covid-19 and moved in with his parents, retirees living in an adult community. His mother Pat is open and loving, but his Egyptian born father, Farid, struggles to understand Alex’s life as a gay man. Trapped indefinitely in their home, Alex wrestles with the loss of his relationship as well as feeling shut down by his dad. Early Retirement asks the question are we destined to become our parents?
Writing partners Susan-Kate Heaney and Peter Sabri penned Early Retirement as a proof of concept for their full-length feature, based on Peter’s personal experience being a first generation Egyptian-American LGBTQ+ man. We all are former New Yorkers and share a theater background. I had worked with Peter previously, on a project called There’s A Special Place in Hell for Fashion Bloggers. I knew he was an exceptional actor, and we brought on Adrienne Barbeau (Maude) and Maz Siam (The Affair) to round out this distinctive cast. Having an acting background myself, getting excellent performances from actors is always very important to me, but especially in telling this slice of life story.
I was drawn to the script because of my relationship with my own father, a Mexican immigrant who I don’t always see eye to eye with. He and I differ in many ways: where I am liberal, he is conservative. He is a laborer and I am an artist. He is guarded and I am emotional. Working alongside my frequent collaborator cinematographer Seth Fuller (14 Cameras), I wanted to show father and son in opposition and how Pat is caught between them. Alex is a disruption to their quiet retirement community. And Pat and Farid are an obstacle Alex must face in order to expose his truth and confront his broken relationship with his ex. And it never hurts to have an adorable dog as a co-star.
Ultimately, I believe we have created an important father-son story that shows the complexities of being seen as an adult by your parents. Even though it is specific in its circumstances, it is a universal desire, and the characters are recognizable. This film reflects real life, and therefore is not resolved at the end. After directing it, I feel like I understand my father’s point of view and his struggles as an immigrant person to better understand and accept me. I hope that is what our audience will be left with as well.