Review: Of an Age Shows Young Actor Elias Anton Grow From Boy to Man in Intimate, Gut-Wrenching Story of a Relationship

Only a year after his striking, witchy debut feature You Won’t Be Alone, writer/director Goran Stolevski comes to us with a very different type of drama, set in the summer of 1999. Centering on a 17-year-old, Australian amateur ballroom dancer and Serbian immigrant named Kol (Elias Anton), the film’s first half focuses on his race against the clock to locate his dance partner and best friend Ebony (Hattie Hook), so the pair can make it to their senior-year dance competition finals. 

In order to get to where Ebony is (she has woken up after a bender the night before), Kol must enlist the help of her older, grad student brother Adam (the terrific Thom Green) to drive the hour or so. Along the way, the two get to know each other and Adam reveals that he’s recently gotten out of a love affair with another man, which sends Kol into a bit of a spin. At first, we believe he might be uncomfortable around gay men, but it soon becomes clear that he’s actually a closeted gay young man himself, and the fact that Adam is handsome and seems like a fantastic person is forcing Kol to face up to his true nature and feelings. In the next 24 hours, we find out that Adam is actually leaving the country for South America very soon, but that doesn’t keep the two of them from falling for each other and having an intense, albeit condensed, love affair for one day.

Of An Age then skips ahead several years, to a sort of reunion between these two characters for Ebony’s wedding weekend. Both men have pursued their own life/career paths and seem happy where they’ve landed. But despite the years, they haven’t forgotten their time together or feelings for one another, and it’s in this second half of their story that the emotional weight of the film finally takes hold.

Director Stolevski and cinematographer Matthew Chuang shoot these two segments quite differently. The first half is done largely in closeups, with much of the action taking place in the confine of Adam’s car; the claustrophobic nature of the setting is heightened to great effect. But the second half of the film takes place in more open spaces, and the energy of the conversations feels loose and more mature, which doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of room for heartbreak, because that can happen in any size venue. 

Of An Age feels personal, intimate, and gut-wrenching. As good as Green is, Anton is the true discovery here, playing Kol not just at different ages, but also at different levels of maturity—he’s s boy in the beginning and very much a man later on. As strong as Stolevski’s first film was, this work ups the emotional gravitas, and makes whatever he’s going to do next (actually, he’s already shot his next feature, Housekeeping for Beginners) seem all the more interesting and exciting.

The film opens in theaters on Friday.

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Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a frequent contributor at /Film (SlashFilm.com) and Backstory Magazine. He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.