“SEQUIN IN A BLUE ROOM”
A Gay Teen and Sex
Sequin is a 16 year old boy who, after a chance encounter at an anonymous sex party, hunts through the world of a hook-up app to track down the mystery man. He prefers the instant gratification of anonymous, no-strings sexual encounters over meaningful relationships, high schooler and is always logged-on but never-engaged. He stalks and ghosts ex-partners and is unavailable emotionally. At least he was until he finds his way to an anonymous sex party, where he finds a whole new world. We watch him as he connects with a mysterious stranger but they are separated suddenly. Sequin becomes fixated on this man and is determined to find him and so sets off on his mission of tracking him down.
Director Samuel Van Grinsven (who cowrote the screenplay with Jory Anast) has said that his central aim is to make films which reflect the complexity of the queer community. This is his first film and it certainly reflects what he says. on his debut film, Sequin in a Blue Room, he’s off to a great start in his quest to achieve this. He gives us a character who is not exactly likeable and his way to find sex (which he often sees as romance) is certainly not the usual especially for someone his age. This is both a character study and a look at the younger generation that is comfortable with anonymous connections made over hook-up apps. They do not seem to be concerned about finding meaningful lives.
Conor Leach is Sequin, a 16 year old who doesn’t have the same problems with acceptance or being out as other gay teens – he has a supportive father (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor) and a standard school life. But instead of being the teen that he is, he lies about his age and hooks up with lots of guys he meets on a Grindr-style app and then blocking every person the moment each sex encounter is over. He hooks up with “B” (Ed Wightman), a married 40 something who develops an unhealthy obsession with Sequin, which then develops in intensity when both find themselves at a sex party. Sequin breaks his own rule and falls for one of his casual hook ups (Samuel Barrie) in the blue room and then begins a journey to learn his name and this leads him back to “B” who becomes increasingly obsessive.
I must say that I felt a bit uneasy watching this knowing that Sequin is still a teen and engaging in such reckless and promiscuous sexual adventures even though I am well aware that teens share many of the same feelings as adults and even if this is a commentary on the emptiness of a generation who has become more accustomed to using apps than finding love after coming out. It seems that the film actually depends on that sense of unease, (sex scenes are filmed as extreme close ups of faces with the character pretending to enjoy the activity and seeing promiscuity as natural in gay life. We see no romance and we sense feelings of being detached and these reflect the emptiness of each sexual meeting.
Yet, even though this is a commentary on coming of age in hook-up culture, it does not instill fear about today’s teens. Director Grinsven uses Sequin’s classmate Tommy (Simon Croker) as a contrast in behavior. Tommy is more preoccupied with finding a date than rushing to the next hook up. This is really just a comment on the way some behave and certainly not the rule. It is just a certain aspect of the modern queer experience and not the case of an entire generation.
“Sequin in a Blue Room” is with no doubt an effective directorial beginning especially in that it deals with h a problematic character study. I believe that we should see it as “a very modern tale of what it’s like to grow up in the age of social media.”