a boy stands behind another and leans intimately in, on a dark night
Courtesy Thuy Vy / Focus Features

Of an Age opens with a sequence worthy of entry into The Cinema of Stress library (think Uncut Gems or Dog Day Afternoon), but in 1999 and with a gay bildungsroman. Our protagonist Kol (Elias Anton) is sprinting between landlines and thumbing frantically through phone books, shooing his little brother away as he tells Kol to finish his call so he can log onto the net. His best friend Ebony (Hattie Hook), a vain mess who abuses his goodwill for emotional support, has woken up confused on the Australian shore, and he’s the first person she calls wailing from a pay phone. Her chaos costs them a chance to perform in a dance competition that, we know from Kol grief-puking, is an outsized part of his identity as he finishes high school.

The knotty episode gradually loosens as Kol and Ebony’s older brother, Adam (Thom Green), drive to find her. Adam, unlike Kol, is out and open with his sexuality. He’s also of the worldly variety in a provincial land. Kol, an immigrant from war-torn Serbia, is this way too, but not confidently. Adam is perfect-looking and hyperintelligent, but he has the air of someone who finds more alienation than comfort in being fully formed. Kol is hangdog and madcap, sloppy in his fruitless search for selfhood but sweetly goofy at all times. The camera cuts back and forth between shaky close-ups of both as their dialogue takes us further into them than expected. Adam knows who Kol is more than Kol does, but he finds wonder and tenderness, not tedium, in the younger man’s much-needed unraveling.

The dilemma of Goran Stolevski’s movie is classic, badly timed romance stuff, a real One Last Night affair: Adam is off to Buenos Aires, to pursue a PhD in linguistics. It’s as good as those things get—a memorable blast of humanity and nostalgia. R, 100 min.

Limited release in theaters