Sequin in a Blue Room: Review. By Clare Brunton.
The Blue Room – a strictly anonymous, limitless sex party – where a whole new, alluring world unfolds before him. There, Sequin connects with a captivating stranger, but they are separated suddenly. Utterly fixated on this man, Sequin sets off on an exhilarating and dangerous mission to track him down.
Not just looking at the emotional burden of sexual identity and discovery, Sequin in a Blue Room also looks at the naivety of many involved in anonymous sex, through apps and parties, as we see throughout the film in Sequin’s actions. There are nods to the issues surrounding the lack of sexual health education for young men especially LGBTIQ youth with throwaway lines from Sequin’s father such as ‘there’s no worries, it’s not like you’re out there getting anyone pregnant’ highlighting the gaps in experiences between generations and the lack of security when it comes to discovering your sexuality and desires in this way.
Writers Samuel Van Grinsven and Jory Anast spoke to many individuals who had these shared experiences when growing up in the age of social media.
‘Our coming-of-age walks hand in hand with coming out, and for me that meant the forming of my sexual identity as a constant act of transgression. This led me to experiences I wasn’t ready for and situations that put me in danger.’
Highlighting not just the potential dangers of these situations, Grinsven’s direction subtly highlights the loneliness and isolation of coming of age in this manner. There are few shots that don’t contain Leach’s Sequin, and he is almost completely alone in every shot. We spent most of the film head on with our lead making the entire supporting cast seem almost anonymous. Blurred faces, random body parts, we get almost no insight into who Sequin is interacting with, just as he gets little information from them. The use of close profile shots brings about a detached, ominous sensation in the films second half, framing it so that we can almost never see who might be behind someone’s back, crafting the backdrop outside Sequin and his phone as unknown and ominous.
When we do see the supporting cast, the shots are framed almost like Instagram shots, cold blunt lines, almost still imagery, a collection of pieces but no-one is whole.
There’s very little dialogue in the film but the use of sound throughout is cold, blunt and jarring, adding to the increasing sense of dread and concern as the film and Sequin explore and search for his anonymous suitor.
At the centre is a strong breakthrough performance from Conor Leach as Sequin. Carrying almost every shot of the film, he handles his almost wordless performance with strength and grace, and with the power of a performer much older. He’s able to provide nuance to the role through his body language, small differences in facial expression tell us worlds of information.
The script and plot are well developed, with writer/director Grinsven telling an intense and believable story. Using their conversations with young queer men, he and Anast are able to make sure the emotions and actions at the centre of the film felt realistic and true to the story they were trying to tell. It’s for this reason that even if you can see the inevitable turns coming in the film, they are still able to hit you with the same emotional impact as if they had been a complete surprise.
It’s a wonderfully succinct and complete film with almost no flaws, the central performance is worthy of mountains of praise, but the shining star is the cinematography and smart use of camera framing to create an isolated and claustrophobic world as it closes in on Sequin.
Sequin in a Blue Room is released via Peccadillo Pictures on UK/Ireland digital platforms from 9th April. The film is released in the US & Scandinavia from 17th May.
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