- The Magazine
As Sequin in a Blue Room‘s opening credits fill the screen, director Samuel Van Grinsven decides to make one thing very, very clear: the movie you’re about to watch is not just any film, but “a homosexual film.” Set in an unspecified Australian metropolis, the movie, which won the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Sydney Film Festival, is abundantly homosexual as it tells the story of a young gay high schooler addicted to anonymous gay sex.
Sixteen-year-old Sequin (Conor Leach) is perpetually in search of his next nameless encounter, seeking out daily carnal entanglements, often with much older men, on an app called “Anon.” He blocks his conquests the moment he leaves their apartments. “I don’t see people twice, that’s just how it works,” he says dismissively to a 45-year-old known as B (Ed Wightman), who is so smitten by the fair, delicate young man, he begs for a second meet-up.
Things take a sinister turn after Sequin, who wears a silver, sparkling crop top during sex as though it were knight’s armor, attends a group sex party known as Blue Room. There, he not only encounters the stalkerish B again, but is seduced by a man with whom Sequin himself becomes obsessed. The slow-boil narrative becomes a “hunt and hide” scenario, as Sequin breaks his cardinal rule, recklessly putting his safety on the line.
As visually expressive as it is, Sequin in a Blue Room (★★★☆☆) falls on the narrative thin side. When, at the midway point, things finally start to get interesting, Van Grinsven and his fellow writer Jory Anast fold their hand. The story could have exploded with a terrifying bang but it fizzles out. Still, the final scene is a fulfilling surprise that helps to assuage the plot’s shortcomings and make sense of the story’s overall point.
Director Van Grinsven shows promise — Sequin is his first stab at a feature-length movie — and several sequences, including those in the Blue Room and one set in a lion’s den of stoned drag queens, are wonderfully trippy and surreal. There’s a fair amount of sex peppered throughout, though most of it feels rote. That’s the point, though, as Sequin’s sex life lacks meaning.
It’s reason enough to watch the film for Leach, whose magnificent, multi-layered performance is a canny mix of sensuality, teenage cockiness, vulnerability and, when needed, utter panic. If Hollywood is taking notice — and it should — Leach will one day have the kind of acting career dreams are made of.
Sequin in a Blue Room is available on VOD platforms starting Tuesday, May 18.
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