Kudos to the programmers of Queer Screen Mardi Gras Film Festival in Sydney that they awarded the honor of being the Opening Night Gala film to Of An Age. This emotionally resonant coming -of age from Macedonian-Australian filmmaker Goran Stolevski reminded me of the powerful impact that Francis Lee created in 2017 with his debut God’s Own Country. Both of these films will undoubtedly become queer classics.
It’s 1999 and we start with 17-year-old Nikola known as Kol (Elias Anton) a Serbian/Australian amateur dancer working out his moves early in the morning in his garage for a major competition later that day. He’s disturbed by a phone call from a very frenzied Ebony (Hattie Hook) his dancing partner who has just woken up on a beach somewhere in Melbourne after an all-night rager. She makes little sense but he knows he needs to locate her and pick her up immediately if they are to have any chance at making the competition
He rushes over to her house and picks up her costume and shoes and also her older, cooler brother Adam (Thom Green) who offers to drive him to pick up his sister who is sort of sobering up. Stolevski shoots most of this part in the caron a hand-held camera that flits between the two men who are essentially strangers. Somehow there is a real easiness between them as their conversation ranges the whole gamut, of books, films, and girls. However, after Adam casually drops into the conservation that he is gay, Kol feels he has to state that he is straight, but they have reached a point when they are so connected as newfound friends, but no one, including us, are sure how this will develop.
Then we discover there is a time bomb in their midst as in 24 hours Adam is leaving to study for a Ph.D. in South America. As Kol is starting to let his hair down the fact that if they do get together it can only be for a one-night stand makes a decision more urgent. On the other hand, the consequences of just ‘changing teams’ for an unexpected night of passion may affect Kol much more than he can handle.
The second part of the film is from 2010 and both men, unknown to each other, are flying back to Melbourne for Hattie’s wedding. Kol seems to have really matured well and is now a self-assured gay man. Immediately they set eyes on each other again it is so very obvious that they both have enormous (very physical) feelings for each other. The elephant in the room this time is that Kol discovers that Adam is now married.
As Stolevski builds tensions so well in this heart-string-pulling tale where plot twists are not always easy to predict, it’s only right we give no spoilers here. He was blessed with a pair of extremely talented lead actors who had a magical chemistry between them, but most of all he gave us one of the most eloquent and imaginative coming-out tales we have seen for a very long
Of An Age is the Opening Film at Queer Screen, Mardi Gras Film Festival in Sydney, and will be released into US theatres by Focus Features.
Review : Roger Walker-Dack
Editor in Chief : Queerguru Member of G.A.L.E.C.A. (Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association) and NLGJA The Association of LGBT Journalists. and The Online Film Critics Society. Ex Contributung Editor The Gay Uk & Contributor Edge Media Former CEO and Menswear Designer of Roger Dack Ltd in the UK one of the hardest-working journalists in the business' Michael Goff of Towleroad