Of An Age: A Refreshingly Real Queer Love Story
We are in an age of Queer Cinema that is truly a sight to behold. The sheer volume of LGBTQ+ characters, storylines and films has grown exponentially over the past couple of years (don't get me wrong, there is still PLENTY of room for growth, but we can and should still celebrate progress) that we're now at a point where we can really afford to be more critical of this art "genre," and analyze what stories are chosen to be told...which is why I was so elated to get to attend a screening of the new queer movie Of An Age, a movie that is equal parts romantic and heart-breakingly real.
Elegance in Simplicity
The story in Of An Age is not particularly complex, and is told in two very different parts. In the first part, we meet Kol, a young Serbian immigrant living in Australia who is running late to a dance competition, while his dance partner Ebony is hung over, stranded on a beach roughly an hour away. Kol enlists Ebony's older brother Adam to drive him there and pick her up. That is the inciting action for this movie, and we're then positioned in the car with Adam and Kol as they immediately connect, seeming to understand each other on a more intellectual level. Throughout the course of their day together, the sparks really start to fly and their relationship grows more intimate.
This streamlined, minimalist story allows us to explore these two characters with a breathtaking frankness that we don't often get to explore. We're able to witness Kol's complex discovery of his queerness, while also allowing Adam to be more than just the slightly-older-boy he falls for. They are both given extensive agency in making the decisions to be together, even if it is just for a fleeting moment. Also refreshing is that this film is able to tell a queer story without bogging it down in trauma. Being a member of the LGBTQ+ community is often associated with struggles, but there are moments between members of the community that can be so bright and loving that they wash away that darkness, and Of An Age captures that beautifully.
Loneliness is Underlying
The second half of this movie meets up with our characters reuniting 10 years on from their first encounter. We get to see that both of these people have fully grown into themselves, replacing some of that youthful uncertainty with a more self-assuredness. Their conversations are different, more mature, and more outwardly queer. Kol however, has a constant undercurrent of loneliness running through him. He's never been able to recapture the joy he felt on his day with Adam when they were younger, and is constantly questioning what that means for him. It's an achingly real depiction of growing up queer, and cherishing any and all joy you can from such moments in your developing years.
Such a nuanced story and concept could easily be mishandled by ill-equipped actors, but both Elias Anton (Kol) and Thom Green (Adam) handle their characters' emotional arcs brilliantly. Anton showcases the rawness of someone who always feels alone, but is desperately clawing at any opportunity for connection. Green is charming and humorous as Adam, instilling him with a confidence that allows the viewer to fall in love with him alongside Kol. The supporting cast all turn in wonderful performances as well, with Hattie Hook being absolutely hysterical as Ebony.
Romance is Fleeting
Writer and Director Goran Stolevski does a wonderful job keeping the story focused on these two characters, and encompassing how fleeting romance can be. His voice is refreshingly honest and relatable, and the script has a surprising amount of humor ( I wouldn't classify this as a rom-com by any means, but there is genuinely real comedy throughout). The movie serves as an interesting examination of the complexities of youthful romance, and how cherishing fleeting moments too strongly can evolve into adult loneliness. An engaging film from start to finish that left me giddy and introspective at the same time, Of An Age is the first LGBTQ+ movie I've watched in 2023, and filled me with excitement and anticipation for what queer stories lie ahead.