sat 20/07/2024

Sequin in a Blue Room review - soullessness and sex in Sydney | reviews, news & interviews

Sequin in a Blue Room review - soullessness and sex in Sydney

Sequin in a Blue Room review - soullessness and sex in Sydney

Directing debut is grimly compelling if not always plausible

Only connect: Simon Croker and Conor Leach in 'Sequin In A Blue Room'

Sequin is the screen name for the questing 16-year-old at the slowly awakening heart of Sequin in a Blue Room, a 2019 Australian film only now reaching the UK.

The graduation project of its New Zealand-born director and co-writer Samuel Van Grinsven, the 80-minute movie charts a mostly compelling path from multiply meaningless gay hook-ups through to something at least resembling a connection, if the image of shared popcorn at the end offers any indication of happier times ahead. 

Structured across a series of apartments that count down from ten to zero, the screenplay (co-written with Jory Anast, doubling as the film's cinematographer) at first finds the sunken-cheeked teenager of the title (played by Conor Leach, pictured below) in purposefully detached, coolly clinical mode. No sooner has he finished a dating app-fueled encounter before he is blocking the man involved, preferring the wordless liaisons to be found at the anonymous Blue Room sex party of the title to anything that might require - heaven forfend - actual conversation. (Indeed, the film doesn't allow for sustained chat until about 25 minutes in.) 

Conor Leach as SequinAt school, Sequin sends texts from under the table while his English teacher invokes Wuthering Heights and rabbits on about obsession, transgression and that remote-seeming word, love. Such an emotion seems entirely alien to Sequin, who is initially resistant to the approaches of a kind-seeming classmate, Tommy (Simon Croker). Far better to land on the doorstep of one "daddy" or another, even as his own father (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor) exhibits a tolerance towards his son that would be remarkable in any time or place. This crucial relationship feels strangely cryptic, as if Van Grinsven were more interested in the artsy maunderings of Sequin through one curtained-off tryst after another rather than letting human interaction have its due. 

The wisp of a plot comes from a second encounter with an older man, Edward (Samuel Barrie), in which Sequin soon finds himself in over his head as the plot swerves towards a revenge thriller of sorts that itself feels attenuated, as well. (A disturbing scene in which an angry Edward shows up at Sequin's school finishes just as it's getting started.) I can't say I especially warmed to Sequin, notwithstanding the commitment brought to the part by Leach, who resembles a younger Eddie Redmayne as he sheds a faux-hardened exterior on the way towards the presumably nourishing popcorn of the finish.

But likability isn't really the point of a film that pinpoints an ongoing, readily identifiable sexual and social restlessness. And just as I was tiring of another lingering close-up of Sequin in the shower, I noticed something else: the extent to which the water droplets after a while could serve as a visual equivalent for the young man's tears. 

Likability isn't really the point of a film that pinpoints an ongoing, readily identifiable sexual and social restlessness


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters