Many queer people can pinpoint key awakenings in their lives. Their first crush, their first kiss, and their first…well, you get the idea. And those moments stay with you, sometimes forever. Macedonian Australian director Goran Stolevski beautifully imagines this unfolding within his latest film Of An Age.
The Australian film presents the story of 18-year-old Kol (Elias Anton), a dancer from a Serbian family who’s a loner, save his one friend and dance partner Ebony (Hattie Hook). During the summer of 1999, he has to come to Ebony’s aid on the day of a major dance competition. Kol enlists help from Adam (Thom Green), Ebony’s older brother, to do so. Kol spends 24 life changing hours with Adam that sets the course for an intense, years-long romance between the two.
Of An Age cultivates intimacy between Kol and Adam that’s so insular and charming, you can’t help, but smile and be engrossed in their budding romance. Anton and Green have an electric chemistry that sparks from when we first see them on screen until the very end. Stolevski’s direction plays a huge part in capturing tender moments between the two. Quick glances that become longing stares, bodily movements that express desire, to the shots (such as the use of showing the young men being separated by a bedroom wall) that demonstrate the distance they desperately want to close between them, you become a fly on the wall examining the romance that starts as a tiny flame and ends up as an all-consuming inferno.
Anton and Green aren’t the only highlights of this film. Hook’s Ebony is a chaotic, but comedic element to Of An Age, especially when she and Anton’s Kol take shots at famed Australian actresses Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman. But ultimately, Kol and Adam’s growing connection rightfully takes up plenty of space within the movie.
Besides the chemistry that they share, Stolevski does a great job of demonstrating Kol and Adam’s growth as individuals. Their love, nor identity development in the film feels rushed. You watch Adam leave behind his charming sarcasm to show off a deeply caring side. Whereas with Kol, we watch him leave behind his innocence and uncomfortability to become a more confident and vulnerable version of himself – all thanks to the trajectory that his connection with Adam set him on.
Love stories like Of An Age are not uncommon. Moonlight, Call Me By Your Name, Booksmart, Pariah, and more have dabbled in queer identity development, love, and longing. While Of An Age tells a similar story, it becomes more of a tale of lost love, lost time, and lost community. For young Kol, his only sense of community is his family (of which he is somewhat distanced from) and his best friend Ebony (who takes advantage of him).
Adam enters his life and not only becomes a love interest, but someone who embodies the true meaning of the community that Kol seeks. Watching how this has unfolded for Kol during the film’s time jump is probably one of the most poignant, but relatable, scenes within the film. For queer folks who found that one person who feels like a safe haven, this film will hit home.
The best part of the movie is watching Kol and Adam spend hours in the car in their search for Ebony. When we are first introduced to Kol and Adam, we meet a stressed, but ambitious teenager and a cool and unaffected college graduate who eventually break down each of their walls to discover themselves, each other, and a new romance. Stolevski’s film editing lets you see through the eyes of Kol and Adam and allows you to feel their romance grow, but also feel the ache of its loss just as strongly.
One of my requests is that there not be a sequel to sully the interpretation of Kol and Adam’s story that Stolevski leaves for his audience to determine. My other request is that others see this film and embrace the message behind the importance of community, exploring one’s identity, and use Of An Age as a catalyst to relive their own queer awakenings. Nostalgia plays a large role in a film that easily becomes a queer classic.