The acclaimed Australian film is an ode to growing up queer in the suburbs of the ’90s
“As much as I feel like it’s a universal love story, it’s about how the queer experience shapes you. [especially] before technology made it a lot easier to find people like you,” says Stolevski.
“As a queer kid, there was a special kind of isolation… But [that] Loneliness inevitably shapes you, whether you want to admit it or not – and it took me many years to be able to do that. The downside is [that] When you find someone queer—even outside of a romantic context—they understand you in a deep and specific way.”
of an age takes time to build that connection. Kol prepares for a dance finale when his competition partner Ebony (newcomer and comedic gold Hattie Hook) calls frantically from a payphone after waking up from a long night at an unfamiliar beach. He jumps into her older brother Adam’s (Thom Green of dance academy) Car – during the long drive, Kol is awakened to a world of possibilities. Not just sex chemistry, but a different way of life.
“Adam helps shape Kol’s future,” says Green. “Not 100 percent, but he’s the defining influence.”
Adam is unlike anyone else in Kol’s life, a sophisticated 25-year-old graduate student who has a passion for music and film – inspired by it, he’s even on the verge of moving to Buenos Aires Happy togetherWong Kar-wai’s yearning 1997 queer romance. Green says he initially struggled with Adam’s slightly overbearing side, where he banged on her Happy together tape in the car and decorates his bedroom with an Almodovar poster.
“Goran and I came to a compromise,” says Green, “that was less about arrogance than Adam saw himself in Kol. In some places the nurturing came through, and in some places the attraction came through.”
“With all those references to that time and place, I think it’s also armor you make yourself,” adds Stolevski, who was himself renting Bergman films from Video Ezy Thomastown when he was 14. “It’s about ‘I know my way around the big world, so I don’t have to define myself by what’s here.’ Partially it is a connection point [Adam’s] tries to do, but also partially, he is [saying] ‘There’s more out there for me’.”
While we might laugh when we see Adam listening intently to Tori Amos, to Kol this handsome man is confident, electrifying and quite possibly one of the first openly gay men he has ever met. Adam is a lifeline that Kol didn’t realize he needed, but it’s not one-sided: Adam is equally fascinated by Kol, who is caught between an impulse to fit in and a desire for more.
Kol flirts with no guidelines on how to do it, teetering on the brink of excitement and fear: Anton conveys that uncontrollable onslaught of emotion so well, while cinematographer Matthew Cheung stays close via a square ratio and mostly shoots in the car, really inviting us to her private oasis.
It’s impossible not to get carried away. But 1999 is only part of the film: inspired by Richard Linklaters Before trilogy and Francois Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel films, of an ageIts final 25 minutes are set in 2010 when Kol and Adam get back together at Ebony’s wedding.
“When we talked about the role,” says Stolevski, “[Anton] was like, ‘Oh, it’s like Kol is this boy who never did drugs and the first hit is straight heroin’. He’s never had love or romance, then he has it in his super intense way.”
“And he’s always chasing the dragon,” adds Anton.
As they orbit each other, they face an oppressive decade of “what ifs” – a romantic ideal that may be too cinematic to turn their backs on. Their shared past becomes a valuable reference point – a piece of armor that arguably limits Kol more than it protects.
While some may see this as tragic, Stolevski has a more romantic view. “There’s a question in the film, ‘Was it worth holding on to for ten years?’ For me it is absolutely worth it.”
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https://www.smh.com.au/culture/movies/why-this-aussie-film-about-90s-suburbia-has-audiences-raving-20230316-p5csn6.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture The acclaimed Australian film is an ode to growing up queer in the suburbs of the ’90s