Goran Stolevski’s tender sophomore film is equal parts coming-of-age and coming-out story, as much a commentary on the pressures of masculinity and heteronormativity as it is a witty, sentimental romance set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-twentieth-century Melbourne.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
Macedonian-Australian director Goran Stolevski’s latest film, Of an Age is a decidedly more romantic and heartfelt departure from last year’s dark witch-horror You Won’t Be Alone (NZIFF 2022). While Of an Age doesn’t shy away from exploring the murky depths of casual racism and small-town violence, the story centres on a queer romance—or perhaps an almost romance—between Serbian-born high-school student Kol (Elias Anton) and his best friend’s older brother Adam (Thom Green). Stolevski takes the queer coming-of-age genre and applies a deft hand, recalling the poor timing and first love yearnings of Call Me by Your Name (NZIFF 2017) but with more balanced power dynamics and deeper observations on race, class and masculinity.
The chemistry between Kol and Adam unfolds in an hour-long road-trip to pick up Kol’s hungover and stranded best friend—Adam’s younger sister—Ebony (Hattie Hook). Full of smart jabs and flirty banter over favourite films and albums, the pair’s interest in each other is a quiet spark, not yet acknowledged by the “straight” Kol. Kol recognises a freedom and worldliness in Adam, soon to set off to Peru to complete his studies, and Adam sees something of himself in the gentle, quick-witted Kol. However, the reality of Kol’s situation—from his tense, homophobic home environment to the final dance examination he failed—reveals Kol’s struggle to attain and even understand the freedom that he seeks.
Set against the changing social fabric of Y2K Melbourne, Of an Age is a slowly building drama that shows the powerful effect of what it means to be truly seen, taking a first crush and burying it deep within the memories of its protagonists for years to come. — Emlou Lattimore