Hattie Hook, Thom Green, and Elias Anton prepare to miss a ballroom dance competition in "Of an Age."

Not a great deal happens in Of an Age. I’ve decided I’m okay with that. These days, all the coming-of-age movies are relegated to streaming unless they have something like a zombie apocalypse. This Australian import is appearing in some of our multiplexes this week, and if you’re in the mood for something patient and atmospheric (or just gay), it’s well worth a look.

We begin on a blazing hot December day in Melbourne in 1999, when Bosnian-Serb teen ballroom dancer Nikola “Kol” Danic (Elias Anton) is awoken by a panicked phone call from his dance partner Ebony (Hattie Hook), who is white, despite her name. After a night of heavy drinking, she came to on a beach minus her purse, her shoes, and any idea where she might be. With less than two hours to locate her and bring her to the competition where they’re supposed to perform, Kol meets Ebony’s older brother Adam (Thom Green), and they try to find her and realize they’re going to miss the contest. They have sex that night — it’s Kol’s first sexual experience — but they don’t pursue the relationship any further because they’re both leaving the country soon. They meet again 11 years later, when Ebony marries some guy.

I’ll admit the ballroom dance element at the start prepped me for a gay(er) version of Strictly Ballroom, which I would have been down for. Instead, the essence of the drama is in the extended conversations that the two guys have during long car trips. Perhaps this isn’t on the same level as Andrew Haigh’s Weekend (the gold standard for conversation movies about gay men), but there’s still some quality talk about Cate Blanchett, the civil war in the Balkans, being tired of life Down Under, and having their flights delayed by the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010. It’s all courtesy of Goran Stolevski, the Macedonian filmmaker who gave us the much different You Won’t Be Alone last spring. Here he makes sure that his male protagonists aren’t overshadowed by Ebony, who flings up drama wherever she goes. He and cinematographer Matthew Chuang capture the little beach towns around Melbourne in their dusty ordinariness.


I could have used more shading in the supporting characters and more insight into Kol’s hyper-macho Slavic home, where his uncles think he’s a sissy who needs to watch more soccer. Even so, this movie excels best at depicting how a fleeting sexual encounter set both these men’s lives on their current paths. Of an Age isn’t as good as Moonlight either, but in its final scenes, it achieves a similar power as its main characters ponder the effect they’ve had on each other and the bond it’s created between them.

Of an Age
Starring Elias Anton and Thom Green. Written and directed by Goran Stolevski. Rated R.