This past weekend I decided to attend TIFF Next Wave because it was free for people under 25 and the films looked interesting. I saw six films at the festival, but I’m going to focus on one film and if you’ve read the title, it is called Sequin in a Blue Room.
The film follows of a 16 year old who uses a hookup app to meet older men for sex, under the alias name, Sequin. He calls himself Sequin, as he wears a sequin shirt with every hookup. Once he’s had sex with the partner he blocks them and moves on. These men are faceless on the app and total complete strangers. In contrast, at school there’s Tommy, who goes to school with Sequin, who is his shy admirer. With one particular hookup, he meets this older married man who stalks him and Sequin finds himself in danger. This all happens as he tries to find a man that he had sex with at a hookup party called the Blue Room; hence the title, Sequin in a Blue Room.
With a modest budget from film school, Samuel Van Grisven’s debut feature film that showcases a coming of age story is a solid first. As a director and writer, Van Grisen manages to blend in the older generation of gay men and younger generation in a fluid narrative story. While there isn’t much dialogue, the cinematography makes up for it. The minimal dialogue shows the complex nature of Sequin’s situation as he rarely confides in his father and isolates himself by blocking people. He blocks the men on the app and shows little interest in Tommy as a love interest or even as a friend.
Along with this being a debut film for the director, this is the first feature film role for Conor Leach who plays Sequin. His acting is quite good for his first role as he manages to capture the quiet yet bold nature of Sequin. He may not say much, but his expressions say a lot about Sequin. He captures the frazzled and self-assured states that Sequin balances between.
While the story and actor are the backbone of this film, it is just okay. It’s a great job for a feature film debut, however, it’s okay as a film in general. There just seems to be something lacking, which could be in part of the structure of the film. It switches to a thriller quickly and it also quickly leaves that storyline behind. It also pays very little attention to the storyline of the mysterious man Sequin is trying to find as it ends very abruptly. Another thing that disrupted the structure was title cards that appeared every time Sequin encounters a new space, or a new hookup. It disrupts the pace of the film and wasn’t exactly necessary.
The film is still worth a watch, as it explores a young man’s reliance on social media to meet older men for sex. It is also a cautionary tale for young people who rely too much on social media and the dangers of meeting strangers online, in person. It’s a promising start for Van Grisven and Conor Leach.