‘Of an Age’ as tedious as its lengthy road trip

Queer love story is built around a drive disconcertingly shot in extreme close-up.

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Kol (Elias Anton, left) and Adam have a brief affair in “Of an Age.”

Focus Features

People hardly forget their first love. But few of us let it ruin our lives. In Goran Stolevski’s queer coming-of-age drama “Of an Age,” however, that’s exactly what happens to the lead character.

Australian Kol (Elias Anton) is a shy yet driven and curious 17-year-old born in Serbia. He’s first introduced when practicing for an amateur ballroom dancing competition. He and his partner Ebony (Hattie Hook) have a chaotic relationship that is reminiscent of a stormy sea — Kol is the sailboat tossed by Ebony’s emotional waves.

As Kol is getting in a final practice before the competition, Ebony wakes up alone on a random beach with no wallet, phone or shoes. She stumbles towards a road looking for a payphone.

‘Of an Age’


Focus Features presents a film written and directed by Goran Stolevski. Rated R (for language, some drug use, and sexual content). Running time: 100 minutes. Now showing at local theaters.

The drama is set in 1999 and flip phones are the “mobile du jour.” This is also a time when Australia’s states had newly decriminalized homosexuality, but the right to same-sex marriage was still a ways off.

Through several convoluted hoops, Kol makes contact with Ebony’s older brother Adam, played by Thom Green. For as long as Ebony and Kol have been friends, it’s not clear why Kol has never met her brother.

The first third of the film is dedicated to recovering Ebony from the beach. The extended driving scene quickly begins to feel dull, the reason being that throughout the film, the camera rarely strays away from a close or extreme close-up shot of the actors’ faces.

Staring at the actors’ pores for 99 minutes was disconcerting and headache-inducing. It gave the film an uncomfortable and tight feeling. And perhaps that was director and writer Goran Stolevski’s intention. But the effect quickly became a nuisance.

Kol feels his way around Adam’s personality. Unlike Kol, Adam is witty, confident and mature. Adam seems to delight in Kol’s innocence.

As for Kol’s queer awakening, the filmmakers don’t really show whether Kol was aware of his preferences. It seems like it suddenly dawned on him that he is gay.

Within 48 hours, Kol appears to not only embrace this side of himself, but also opt have sex with Adam in the back of a car. Then Kol is confronted with the fact that Adam is leaving town to pursue his Ph.D. in Argentina.

Fast forward to 2010. The two meet again at Ebony’s wedding. The encounter is anything but a meet-cute. It’s clear that Kol still has feelings for Adam but only finds out at Ebony’s house that Adam is married to another man. Mind you, gay marriage isn’t legal in Australia for another seven years.

When asked where he got married, Adam replies: Toronto.

In the ensuing years, it appears that Kol has only grown more bitter as his first love could never be matched by anyone else. He remarks that he would never get married.

By the end, there’s no emotional energy left as Kol has sucked it out of the room.

To be fair, both Anton and Green do a fair job of giving Kol and Adam believability. But do we really need another tragic period gay love story? How about yes, but do it better.

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