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‘Of an Age’ Review: A Narratively and Visually Compelling Queer Romance

Dir. Goran Stolevski — 3.5 Stars

'Of An Age' Still with Thom Green and Elias Anton
'Of An Age' Still with Thom Green and Elias Anton By Courtesy of EPK.TV
By Xander D. Patton, Crimson Staff Writer

“Of an Age” is an Australian gay coming of age story from Director Goran Stolevski, only the second feature length film of his career. Set in the summer of 1999, the romance that unfolds between 18-year-old dancer Kol (Elias Anton) and his friend's older brother Adam (Thom Green) moves at a rapid yet beautiful pace, reminiscent of Luca Guadagino’s “Call Me by Your Name.” This experience is clearly transformative for both characters, yet incredibly fleeting, keeping members of the audience on the edge of their seats as they await the outcome of the relationship.

The beginning of the movie jumps right into a spirited — yet confusing — narrative. The audience is put into a state of befuddlement as they are forced to figure out the events of the movie from the perspective of the characters experiencing them. Ebony (Hattie Hook) wakes up lost on a beach, unsure of where she is because of an eventful, substance-filled night. In a state of panic, she calls her best friend and dance partner Kol to bail her out of the situation, because they both need to be at their final dance competition in just a few hours. However, Ebony soon discovers that she is over an hour away, and Kol has no access to a car. She racks her brain for anyone who would be available to help and begrudgingly sends Kol to come retrieve her with her older brother, Adam.

For audiences with any clue what they're getting into, it very quickly becomes clear that Adam and Kol have a good amount of chemistry between them, despite their contrasting walks of life. The characters exchange witty and humorous dialogue, discovering that their interests are much more aligned than they would have ever expected. As the rest of the night unfolds, the chemistry between these characters similarly continues to grow, resulting in moments of passion and surrealism that the audience will never forget.

Although “Of An Age” might initially feel like a semi-cliche gay coming of age story, this movie sets itself apart through a jump to the year 2010. In the second half of this film, the characters are reunited after a long separation by a chance airport run-in; they are both in town for Ebony's wedding. What then transpires feels like a chaotic fever dream, as the later half of the movie all takes place in one day, detailing the events of Ebony’s wedding, and the state of the lover’s relationship after a nearly 15-year hiatus, as well as establishing how each of these characters’ lives will move forward from yet another fateful day.

While this movie stands out for a compelling yet not groundbreakingly original narrative, it is also visually distinct. The first half of the movie noticeably utilizes a square frame to demarcate the earlier time period. The majority of the film’s screen time is spent with dialogues between the lovers in a car, allowing the film to take advantage of zoomed-in shots that allow viewers to pay full attention to each of the characters’ facial expressions and reactions. There are also clear tonal shifts based on the setting, as the nighttime allows characters to reveal their true selves under the guise of darkness. Ultimately, the film takes advantage of visual queues and alterations to make for a unique viewing experience.

In addition, the soundtrack of this movie deserves to be mentioned for its ranging genres and emphasis on foreign songs. Whether the music playing is serving to help the characters in the film find common interests and develop their relationships, or just helping to make the atmosphere and mood of the film more intimate, it is impossible not to notice its presence. For example, as the characters bond over a box of cassettes in one of their many car rides home, they introduce each other to new music, further revealing parts of their own individual worlds to each other.

The film has the power to be particularly touching to audiences due to the relationship between these lovers being inevitably forbidden by circumstances that continue to separate them. It leaves audiences with a bittersweet feeling in their hearts as they come to accept the fact that these lovers will not have a happy ending. This, tied together with the way that the movie non-narratively conveys emotion purely through the atmosphere that it creates, results in a beautiful joyride. Something beautiful yet fleeting — that despite our best attempts to hold onto it forever, will always be just out of reach.

—Staff writer Xander D. Patton can be reached at xander.patton@thecrimson.com

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