Greetings again from the darkness. One of my (many) pet peeves involves movies where we are supposed to believe a couple finds eternal love after barely spending any time together. Now I fully understand some artistic license must be taken in love stories, as there are only a couple of hours to work with, but the challenge is making the audience believe it. For the films that do it right, it’s a thing of beauty.
Macedonian-Australian writer-director Goran Stolevski handles this expertly in his first film since the excellent (and much different) YOU WON’T BE ALONE (2022). A frenetic opening pace has 17 year old Kol (Elias Anton) panicking when his best friend Ebony (Hattie Hook in her first feature) phones after a wild night of partying. The two are supposed to be in the finals of an amateur ballroom dancing contest. Kol gets a ride from Ebony’s older brother Adam (Thom Green), and as the two search for Ebony, a natural bond begins as easy conversation covers numerous topics. When Adam matter-of-factly admits he’s gay, Kol’s nervous energy shifts into overdrive.
This bond only has a 24-hour window to blossom, as Adam is headed to South America for graduate studies. But what a 24-hour period it is. The two men continually cross paths, and so much is conveyed with very few spoken words. Glances, body language, and eye-contact are all that’s needed. That opening period takes place in 1999, and we then jump ahead to 2010. My, how time and age changes things … and yet, doesn’t.
We often see the fallout from unrequited love, but what of ‘partially’ requited love? Few films have better captured longing and emotional pain. We feel the aching and see it on Adam and Kol. Many scenes take place in a car, adding to the closeness and feeling of magnetic pull. For me, director Stolevski utilizes a few too many close-ups, although the approach does add to the intensity of some moments. The film may not be heavy on plot, but the emotions are strong enough to keep us invested.
Opens in theaters on February 10 and expands on February 17, 2023.