Queer dramas frequently fall into trope territory, often without even doing so on purpose. How many times have we seen coming out stories, forbidden romances, or “bury your gays” cliches? Thankfully, the new film from writer/director/editor Goran Stolevski does not fall into any of these familiar patterns. Set in the summer of 1999, Of An Age is filmed using a plethora of close-ups, highlighting the phenomenal performances of the cast—more specifically, an intimacy between lead characters Kol and Adam is delicately conveyed without having to go overboard with sexually explicit material. These are merely two men falling in love, with minimal depicted homophobia.
One of the biggest days of his life is here, but a phone call from his distraught bestie will change everything. Kol (Elias Anton), gearing up for his year twelve finals, must take it upon himself to somehow pick up Ebony (Hattie Hook)—who is conveniently passed out at a phone booth—in time for them to make the ceremony they have been practicing months for. It feels like an impossible task, so Kol turns to Ebony’s older brother, Adam (Thom Green), to provide the transportation. Of An Age becomes a partial road trip movie, building first to Kol and Adam retrieving Ebony while exchanging knowing glances and nuggets of dialogue towards one another. The chemistry is there right from the start—though eleven years exist between the character’s ages, Adam’s maturity balances well against Kol’s naïveté. Kol and Adam are adorable together, and would still vibe just as well sans a romantic connection. Ebony seems to be a hot mess, but she is hilarious, and has her moments of genuine connection to Kol.
Of course, despite Kol’s insistence that “it’s okay to be gay,” he himself has not yet acknowledged that facet of his own personality. Adam becomes Kol’s queer awakening. The film is split into two distinct parts: the first is set in 1999, while the 2010 segment serves as the bookend. In the earlier part of Of An Age, eye contact speaks a thousand words. Elias Anton and Thom Green establish their bond through a sense of longing. Kol has never been around queer people, let alone made it okay to embrace that part of himself while he lives with particularly homophobic uncles. During a whirlwind twenty-four hours, Kol finds himself tethered to Adam’s orbit, transfixed completely by his charms. Adam compares high school to a kidney stone, and Kol does a poor Dracula imitation. Stolevski’s script explores tragedy and dark comedy in equal measure. It becomes virtually impossible not to root for this romance. Every glance exchanged feels that much closer to a passionate embrace, transporting viewers to another time through mood-setting Tori Amos music.
Of An Age seems to come upon a thesis that knowing the feeling of love at all is an immense blessing that we should be so lucky to find once in our lives. This is a somewhat cynical expression, and yet in a way it is a true statement. The type of love we have for one person is completely different from what we have for another. No two loves will ever be the same, and facing this difficult truth is hard for many. However, finding a true love in one’s life is a treasure in itself. Perhaps that is why so many relationships are so complicated; conversely, Of An Age is so successful in the message it is trying to convey because of its simplicity and rawness.
During a Q&A for the film at the Angelica Film Center in downtown New York City, Goran Stolevski tells of a complicated impetus to the project, sparked by the flames of a worldwide pandemic that we all know of a little too well by now. Interestingly enough, due to filming restrictions in Australia, simply meeting up with actor Thom Green would mean pretending the two were a couple, as a certain kilometer ruling only excluded relationships. Inspired by Before Sunrise, the film’s 2010 portion was also only added when Stolevski realized his script was significantly too short to serve as a complete whole—this fact was perhaps most surprising of all, considering how beautifully they compliment each other.
When Of An Age hits theaters in the third week of February, it will become the first LGBT+ romance of the year to be a theater exclusive. I can wholeheartedly say that it is well worth the trip to the cinemas to watch this beautiful romance unfold. Simultaneously heartbreaking and wonderfully poignant, Of An Age hits the queer romance sweet spot off the strengths of Elias Anton and Thom Green.
Prepare to come Of An Age when the film releases exclusively in theaters on Friday, February 17th.