(director/writer: Samuel Van Grinsven; screenwriter: Jory Anast; cinematographer: Jay Grant; editor: Tim Guthrie; Music: Brent Williams; cast: Conor Leach (Sequin), Lindsa Taylor (Dad), Samuel Barrie (Edward), Ed Wightman (B), Simon Croker (Tommy), Damian de Montemas (D), Anthony Brandon Wong (Virginia), Tsu Shan Chambers (Teacher), Patrick Cullen (C), Joshia Shediak (A), Nancy Denis (Ari), Darren Kumar (Henry), Simon Elrahi (Ken); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sophie Hattch; AFTRS; 2019-Australia)

It’s a dark but not exploitative gay coming-of-age film that has a good star turn by the expressive Conor Leach.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s a dark but not exploitative gay coming-of-age film that has a good star turn by the expressive Conor Leach, playing the 16-year-old Sequin, a high school student in Sydney. The knowing gay kid is nicknamed for the bespangled halter-top he wears on dates. 

The film release was by Australian TV. It’s a gay drama made as a graduate project for AFTRS. The first-time feature filmmaker is the 26-year-old Samuel Van Grinsyen, and it was co-written by him and Jory Anast.

The film points out how unseemly are the film’s many contacts between older gays with teen gays, as age differences and not same sex affairs disturb this filmmaker.

Sequin’s liberal-minded heterosexual single father (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor), who is not aware his son is queer, gives him freedom to do as he wishes. At school Sequin is busy setting up dates with older men by using his app. Sequin makes only one date with each contact, which is his only dating rule. The minor chooses to date older men rather than gays his own age. A shy fellow gay student, Tommy (Simon Croker), pines for him, but Sequin shows no interest.

The highlight of the film is the scene at a gay anonymous sex party, hosted by “D” (Damian de Montemas), in a large Blue Room apartment (the walls are of a translucent blue sheeting and the place seems to go on and on). On the hunt for a sex partner, Sequin obsesses over a man only a few years older (Samuel Barrie) he spotted at the party but can’t find again, and for the rest of the film he tries locating him again. Through contacting a 45-year-old at the party he had bad sex with before (Ed Wightman), he gets the needed info.

This slight but well-constructed film should only interest its gay target audience, and has little chance of reaching a wider audience.

But I found it a curious watch, as it refreshingly took me with no hangups to a secret place few other gay films could take me.  It’s a film François Ozon could probably dig.

It screened at L.A.’s Outfest and premiered at the Sydney Film Festival.