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FILM OF THE WEEK Sex and social media in the frame

MARIA DUARTE is mesmerised by an arresting, queer coming-of-age story from Down Under

Sequin In A Blue Room (18)
Directed by Samuel Van Grinsven

 

SAMUEL VAN GRINSVEN’S wonderfully arresting debut feature is an affecting, queer, teenage coming-of-age story all rolled into one.

Set in Australia, the film is a frank and uncompromising examination of sex and social media today — as seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Sequin (Conor Leach) as he explores his blossoming sexuality through anonymous, no-strings sexual encounters via an app.

His modus operandi is to never to see the same person twice, ghosting them after their hook up.

That is, until he discovers The Blue Room, a strictly no-names sex party where he meets a captivating stranger (Samuel Barrie) with whom he becomes obsessed — determined to track him down in the real world.

What the drama shows poignantly is the appalling naivety of youth as Sequin doesn’t even begin to comprehend, until it is too late, the precarious and frankly downright dangerous situations he puts himself in with much older men — some old enough to be his father — who happily take advantage of him, in one case appearing at his school and his home.

Sequin’s liberal dad (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor), who loves and trusts him implicitly, is none the wiser, which begs the question: why isn’t he more of a hands-on parent, rather than something like a room mate? At sixteen no one is emotionally equipped to deal with such adult scenarios, and they shouldn’t have to.

With a phenomenal breakout performance by Leach, who is mesmerising and compelling as Sequin, combined with stylish and striking visuals, the film convincingly conveys what it is like to be 16, wanting to grow up fast, and the insidiousness and addiction of the digital world. It is underpinned by the tension between sexual discovery and transgression.

It is both haunting and thought-provoking, and provides a refreshing, gay coming-of-age insight from life Down Under.

Available on demand April 9

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