|Elias Anton, Thom Green, Hattie Hook
|March 23, 2023
For those who have seen Barry Jenkins’ Academy Award-winning Moonlight, the similarities here will be easy to spot. Jenkins’ film provided a deep, thought-provoking look at one man’s struggle to understand himself and his sexuality. It was split into three distinct chapters, each at a different point in time, which showed him as a naïve child, a sexually awakened teenager, and a mature, guarded adult.
Of an Age is from Macedonian-born director Goran Stolevski (You Won’t Be Alone) and is a moving Australian drama about a similar subject matter. The frenetic opening, set in 1999, introduces us to Kol (Anton), a 17-year-old from Melbourne who is on the verge of graduating high school. He shares a love of dance with his best friend Ebony (Hook) but as we soon learn, she’s not as reliable and supportive as one should be. You get a sense that Kol doesn’t have a wide friendship group and so he tolerates Ebony’s antics because there is no alternative.
It’s through an unexpected event that Kol shares a lengthy car ride with Adam (Green), Ebony’s older brother who has just graduated from university and is about to head overseas. The pair quickly realise they share a love for conversation, music, and literature (well, kind of). The innocuous banter between them shifts when Adam acknowledges that he’s gay and this leaves Kol, who has repressed his own sexuality for so long, thinking about whether he should open up himself.
Stolevski goes with a two-chapter approach in Of an Age. Approximately 75% of the runtime follows the teenage Kol and lead actor Elias Anton (Barracuda) does a terrific job illustrating his character’s insecurities and inner torment. Whether Kol is by himself (waiting in Ebony’s bedroom) or surrounded by others (a birthday party he’s semi-reluctant to attend), you can tell Kol isn’t comfortable in his own skin. Thom Green (Camp) deserves similar praise for his performance as Adam.
The film’s finale takes up forward to the year 2010 where Kol and Adam, who haven’t seen each other in a decade, bump into one another at a baggage carousel at Melbourne Airport. They’re now at very different points in their lives and they catch up while sharing a taxi to the city. Just as we saw with Moonlight, this epilogue reminds us of how we change as we grow older… and how we hold onto specific memories of the past and look back at them through rose-tinted glasses.
Offering humour, romance and sorrow, Of an Age is one of the best Aussie movies we’ll get the chance to see this year. Authentic characters and great conversations pitted against the backdrop of suburban, multicultural Melbourne. That’s a winner in my book.