director/writer: Samuel Van Grinsyen; screenwriter: Jory Anast; cinematographer: Jay Grant; editor: Tim Guthrie; music: Brent Williams; cast: Conor Leach (Sequin), Jeremy Lindsay 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 film that has a good star turn by the expressive Conor Leach.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

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

A refreshing and frank queer coming-of-age tale released by Australian television but made as graduate project for AFTRS. First-time feature filmmaker, the 26-year-old, Samuel Van Grinsyen, co-wrote it with Jory Anast. The small-budget film tells of Sequin (Conor Leach, in his first feature), nicknamed for the bespangled halter-top he wears on dates. He’s a gay 16-year-old high school student in Sydney, who has no problem knowing that everyone around him knows he’s queer.

The film is interested in noting the contacts between older gay men with teen gays and recognizing how unseemly that could be.

Sequin’s liberal-minded heterosexual single father (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor) gives him total freedom but is not fully aware of what his son is up to, as the liberated kid uses school as a place to set up sex dates with older men on his app. The conversations are filmed, and Sequin’s rule is only one date for each contact. In school he attracts the shy Tommy (Simon Croker), but he shows no interest in the same-aged but dorky Tommy.

The title is derived from a gay anonymous sex party, hosted by “D” (Damian de Montemas), in a huge Blue Room apartment. Sequin moves through the apartment, whose walls are of translucent blue sheeting, looking to find a sex partner. He encounters the abusive married 45-year-old “B” (Ed Wightman), someone he slept with before but dropped and is saved from him by bumping into the slightly older mystery man he becomes fixated on and spends the rest of the film trying to track him down when he loses sight of him at the party. He even in desperation turns to his former abusive sex partner to get info on him. The mystery man turns out to be Edward (Samuel Barrie) and what he must do to meet him again becomes the gist of the story.

It’s a dark but not exploitative gay film that has a good star turn by the expressive Conor Leach. It shows the possible dangers of a kid having sex with an older man, and the importance of bridging the generation gap and exploring your sexual identity in a free way. The film should generate interest in its target gay community but might not reach out further because it’s limited in scope and the plot lacks depth.

Sequin in a Blue Room. Image Credit: AFTRS.

REVIEWED ON 2/13/2020  GRADE: B-