Sequin in a Blue Room: LGBTQ drama casts an otherworldly spell
Samuel van Grinsven’s Australian coming-of-age story is never judgmental
Conor Leach in Sequin in a Blue Room
Film Title: Sequin in a Blue Room
Director: Conor Leach, Simon Croker, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Anthony Brandon Wong
Starring: Conor Leach, Simon Croker, Jeremy Lindsay Taylor, Anthony Brandon Wong
Running Time: 80 min
Mirroring Gregg Araki’s boldly queer 1992 classic The Living End, this stylish debut feature opens with a declarative title card: “A homosexual film by Samuel van Grinsven”.
A deftly constructed coming-of-age story that plays like a thriller, Sequin in a Blue Room concerns a 16-year-old schoolboy who, using the glittery mononym of the title, sleepwalks through school lessons, oblivious to teachers, peers and his romantic admirer, Tommy (Simon Croker).
Under his desk, meanwhile, he arranges sexual encounters via an app that manifests on screen as a series of headless torsos and peccadillos, as designed by graphic artist Chris Johns. Sequin is an accomplished ghost: once he hooks up with a new partner, he promptly blocks them and scrolls on. His caring single father (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor) is entirely oblivious to his son’s outings, even after they seem to get out of hand.
In a sleek, wonderfully choreographed one-take sequence that proves a triumph for production designer Anna Gardiner and cinematographer Jay Grant, Sequin visits the Blue Room, an anonymous orgiastic party to which he is welcomed by host “D” (Damian de Montemas). Here, the teenager is spotted by the married 45-year-old “B” (Ed Wightman), a former besotted conquest, and subsequently rescued by another older man (Samuel Barrie), on whom Sequin becomes fixated.
For all the lurking dangers, van Grinsven’s film, co-written with Jory Anast, is never judgmental of its hero’s digitally aided cruising. Instead, Sequin in a Blue Room quietly contemplates generational differences in the LGBTQ community and casts an otherworldly spell around Sequin’s encounters. The Blue Room could be Hogwarts with more plastic curtains and bucking.
It’s hard to believe this clever, compelling project was completed as the director’s Australian Film, Television, and Radio School master’s project. A nuanced central performance from newcomer Conor Leach makes for a second debut.