About an Age
Eddie Orton, Rachel Lee, Daniel Cockburn, Keith Purcell, Ashley Stocco
…genuinely feels like a pleasant evening with your mates…
Ah, adolescence! The growth spurts, the puberty, the perfect storm of hormones. Many of us who have escaped its clutches are unlikely to want to go back any time soon. And yet, who could possibly turn down a teen coming of age flick? Predominately seen as an American cinematic tradition (Thank you, John Hughes), Australia has undoubtedly given as good it’s got. Take a look at old school classics, such as Puberty Blues, Looking for Alibrandi, The Year My Voice Broke and Flirting. And the well doesn’t appear to be running dry yet, with the likes of Samson and Delilah, Girl Asleep, Bran Nue Dae, Bilched and Breath among others.
About an Age, from directors Harley Hefford and Evan Martin, is a more restrained approach to the genre than those raised on the adventures of Ferris Bueller and The Breakfast Club may be used to. Set on a warm Friday evening, as the end of Year 12 comes hurtling over the horizon, a group of friends gather to have a few beers while the parents are away. The ensemble is a collection of teen tropes: the jocktastic Dave (Eddie Orton), his sensitive sister Michelle (Rachel Lee), her hipster boyfriend Jackson (Daniel Cockburn), the nerdy Brett (Keith Purcell) and the flirtatious Sarah (Ashley Stocco).
There was a period in all our lives when adulthood was our number one pursuit, and the film accurately reflects that time. Aside from a slightly misjudged soliloquy in the film’s final hurdle, About an Age keeps the teens’ dialogue nice and natural. Cue discussions about unhooking bras, sex and the future. Sometimes funny, often cringey in its authenticity, it’s easy to relate to the onscreen young ones.
Often mentioned and rarely seen is Laura (Fredricka Arthurs), who stalks around the narrative like a spectre at the feast. Laura is everything the gang don’t want to be; she’s ‘weird’, stand-offish. Hell, she still uses cassettes! Her presence – or lack of it – acts as a tonic to the drunken jubilation. At one point, through no fault of her own, she becomes the catalyst for a bout of petty bullying that quite rightly makes you feel sorry for someone you know nothing about. In our adolescence, we were idealistic and free, but we could also be vicious and petulant at the drop of a hat. It works to the film’s strengths that Hefford and Martin ensure they don’t shy away from this pettiness, which leads to real consequences.
Overall, About an Age genuinely feels like a pleasant evening with your mates, one which is likely to stir up your hornet nest of a memory. It may even have you reaching out to some old friends and making plans to relive schoolies.