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Goran Stolevski Crafts An Intense, Gentle Romantic Drama

Mar 6, 2023


Written and directed by Goran Stolevski, Of an Age will tug at the heartstrings. It’s a tender coming of age that explores the main character coming to terms with being queer while also facing prejudice regarding his Serbian heritage in the late 90s. The film is earnest and full of yearning and intimacy, elevated by the performances of its lead actors who, even in the film’s most abrupt moments, have so much chemistry to keep audiences watching.

Set in 1999 Australia, Of an Age follows 18-year-old Kol (Elias Anton), a Serbian-born budding ballroom dancer with his whole life ahead of him. When his friend and dance partner, Ebony (Hattie Hook) finds herself in another town on the morning of their final competition, Kol calls Ebony’s older brother Adam (Thom Green) to help. On the drive, Kol and Adam connect, and there’s an intensity to their relationship that Kol, at first, doesn’t seem ready for, but it’s one that will change his life.

Related: Elias Anton & Thom Green Interview: Of An Age

Thom Green and Elias Anton in Of an Age

Of an Age is not only romantically intimate, but it’s a coming-of-age story for Kol, who is trying to understand himself as a queer man and struggling to find his place in the world and in his relationships. The first half of the film feels like a road trip movie, just two people driving and getting to know each other. It becomes obvious after a while that there’s an attraction between Kol and Adam, a connection and a sexual tension that draws them together and keeps their conversation going. Crucially, Adam is one of the few characters in the film who is actually kind to Kol, who is on the receiving end of hateful comments, or, in the case of his best friend Ebony, neglect and dismissal.

Adam shows a genuine interest in Kol and vice versa. There’s a sense of mutual understanding, of seeing deeper into each other’s souls than anyone has before. Longing looks, nervously stumbling over words, light teasing, sexually charged glances, and thoughtful conversation drives their dynamic throughout. It’s to the benefit of the film since Anton and Green have such intoxicating, natural chemistry together. When immersed in conversation, they bounce off each other well, and their chemistry makes it authentic to their characters and the situation. When the scene calls for more heat, Anton and Green really bring it. It makes the audience invested in their relationship despite Kol and Adam having only known each other for a very short time.

Hattie Hook, Thom Green, and Elias Anton in Of an Age

Of an Age is slow to start, and it has quite an abrupt end, but the rest of the film more than makes up for it. The film’s use of close-ups and boxed-in ratios make it so the characters feel closer, even while sharing a small space at the front seat of a car. Although the film doesn’t dive any deeper into Kol’s relationship with his family, viewers are given enough information to understand why he feels so isolated. Of an Age also tackles the challenges of being a child of Serbian immigrants in Australia, where acceptance among peers feels even more futile and people are needlessly cruel. With all that baked into the narrative, it’s easy to see why Kol is so drawn to Adam. He’s also the only one in the entire film who is soft and gentle with Kol and his feelings.

Stolevski has crafted a bittersweet, touching story that is at times heart-wrenching, longing, and deeply poignant. It’s moving at the right times and in important places, eliciting an emotional response from the audience. While the film takes its time building Kol and Adam’s connection, the slow pacing does lead to a rushed ending that doesn’t have enough room to breathe. The film’s final moments are set in the future, and it would have benefited the story had this time jump happened earlier, which would have given the narrative ample time to flesh out where Kol and Adam ended up and how their connection still perseveres. To that end, Of an Age leaves something to be desired. Despite this sticking point, Stolevski gets to the core of these characters who are yearning for something more and find it in each other, all while handling a tender coming-of-age story and queer identity.

More: Goran Stolevski Interview: Of An Age

Of an Age released in theaters February 17. The film is 99 minutes long and rated R for language throughout, sexual content and some drug use.

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