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Review: Of An Age

February 16, 2023

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Set in Australia at the turn of the new millennium, writer-director Goran Stolevski’s sophomore feature Of An Age is an engaging and poignant portrait of two young men, Kol (Elias Anton) and Adam (Thom Green), who connect over a whirlwind 24 hours in the last few weeks of 1999.

Kol is a 17-year-old, Serbian-born amateur ballroom dancer living in Melbourne. Adam, who has recently come back from university after living abroad, is the somewhat estranged older brother of Kol’s best friend and dance partner Ebony (Hattie Hook).

The two first meet when Ebony wakes up drunk on the side of the road on the morning of their big dance recital, following a night of wild partying, with little clue where she is and no way of getting home. A frantic call from a pay phone connects Kol to Adam, who has the car needed to come pick her up.

This early drive is crucial to their burgeoning relationship. Kol will be eighteen in a few weeks (on New Year’s, no less) and Adam is a few years older. The two bond over talking about music and literature; Kol thankful to find someone he can actually talk to, Adam glad to have found someone who understands his references and will listen. We sense initial attraction, but also the uncertainty of two men who aren’t sure if the other is interested. Adam mentions an ex whose box of old cassette tapes is still in his car, but leaves out the pronouns. Kol assumes “she,” but Adam corrects to “he,” and a flash of recognition as well as shyness comes over him.

It’s in these wonderfully observed little moments, such as the push and pull of testing the waters to see if someone likes you back, that Of An Age really comes alive. Given the fact that a good chunk of the film’s first act is made up of the characters simply talking and driving in the car together, the success of the film rests in the strength of the writing and the chemistry between the leads. Thankfully, it succeeds on both fronts. Anton’s Kol shows the slight naïveté but also openness of youth, while Green’s Adam gives the sense of someone who has closed themselves off slightly to the world.

The screenplay by the Macedonian-born, Australian-raised Stolevski gives us just as much information as we need at any given moment, while also being tuned into the emotions of its characters. Stolevski’s direction is tender and sensitive, while showing an artistic eye that comes through in Matthew Chuang’s 4:3 cinematography, with the boxiness of the image working as an asset in how it finds ways to keep the characters in the frame together.

While Of An Age does a very good job of capturing the very specific feel of its time and place, the film also finds universal moments in its specificity, capturing the feeling of an in-the-moment connection that might not be able to last, but you keep thinking about over the years. The last act pivots, allowing the film to explore longing and regret. This is a bittersweet look at a brief but impactful relationship that will continue to reverberate through the characters’ lives.

Of An Age opens exclusively in theatres in limited release on February 17th. It’s being distributed in Canada by Focus Features.

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