Sequin in a Blue Room is the first feature-length production from writer/director Samuel Van Grinsven.
I’m so impressed by this film – if you get a chance to see it, it’s definitely worth watching.
The synopsis doesn’t really do it justice – what sounds like it’s going to be a bit exploitative and trashy is actually really compelling storytelling and an intelligently crafted film.
What’s Sequin in a Blue Room about?
Sequin in a Blue Room is the erotic story of 16-year-old Sequin. He is exploring his burgeoning sexuality through an obsession with anonymous, no-strings sexual encounters. That is until he finds his way into The Blue Room. A strictly anonymous, limitless sex party. There a whole new, alluring world unfolds before him. There, Sequin connects with a captivating stranger. However, they are separated suddenly. Utterly fixated on this man, Sequin sets off on an exhilarating and dangerous mission to track him down.
Is Sequin in a Blue Room worth watching?
There’s a couple of really interesting things going on in this film.
The key themes being explored are adolescent sexuality, hook-up app culture and the way that technology shapes our lives. And also the powerful forces of desire and obsession.
Van Grinsven somehow manages to combine a dream-like sense of dystopia with emotions and encounters that feel very authentic.
Sound plays a really key role in the overall feel of the film. Just as light is also used with strong effect. One of the real successes of the film is the way that in-app conversations and interactions are overlaid on the screen. It really feels very real-time and true-to-life.
One of the really intelligent choices that Van Grinsven has made is that there’s no moral judgment attached to anything that we’re watching. Initially, that’s a bit disconcerting – we’re watching a film about a hyper-sexualised 16-year-old boy and because that story is unfolding in a moral vacuum I found myself wondering how I should be feeling about what I’m watching, and how was I supposed to process the information I was being presented with.
But, by presenting Sequin’s story in this way, it becomes much more powerful. No one is the victim here. People have made unwise choices, and there’s plenty of interactions that are morally questionable… However, allocating blame isn’t the objective of this story.
Invincible but also vulnerable
The other thing I really liked about this film was that the character of Sequin felt like a very contemporary young guy. His sexuality isn’t even a topic for discussion. – He is gay and he knows he is gay. Everyone knows he’s gay, and he is doing what young gay guys do.
Sequin is at that age where he’s just starting to realise his power and his potential. He’s more interested in older guys because he enjoys the validation they give him and the power-play of being emotionally unavailable to them. He feels invincible, he’s fearless, but he’s also vulnerable and still figuring stuff out.
Ultimately, what makes this film work is the performance of Conor Leach in the central role of Sequin. This was his first major role and – without much dialogue to work with – he delivers a fully realised character. Leach is pretty much in every scene in the film and he makes Sequin seem totally authentic and compelling. It’s really impressive.
Sequin in a Blue Room is a film worth adding to your watch-list.
Review. By Clare Brunton
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 gay 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.’ Clearly highlighting the gaps in experiences between generations. As well as the lack of security when it comes to discovering your sexuality and desires in this way.
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.
Well developed script and plot
The script and plot are well developed. The 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 center of the film felt realistic and true to the story they were trying to tell. It is 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.