Sequin in a Blue Room review – electrifying foray into online hookup culture

Samuel van Grinsven’s impressive graduation project is a gay coming-of-age tale that ripples with sexual energy

Sequin in a Blue Room
Pulsating … Sequin in a Blue Room. Photograph: Publicity image
Pulsating … Sequin in a Blue Room. Photograph: Publicity image

Last modified on Wed 7 Apr 2021 12.02 EDT

Boldly declaring itself a “homosexual film”, Sequin in a Blue Room is neither coy nor moralistic about online gay hookup culture. The apps have a toxic side, yes, but the film also acutely understands the heady, tactile pleasure of casual sex. Despite the thriller aesthetics, Sequin in a Blue Room is at its heart a coming-of-age tale in a digital world filled with instant sexual gratifications and perilous risks.

The film is, in one word, hot; rippling with an electrifying sexual energy. The anonymity is key. Even the 16-year-old protagonist, played by Conor Leach, has no name. He is known only as Sequin, a display name on a hookup app where he procures no-strings sex from much older men. With cut-glass cheekbones, Sequin is striking and arrogantly cocksure of the power attached to such assets. The silvery, sequin-encrusted crop-top reserved for his trysts only enhances the detached precocity.

Nevertheless, Sequin’s walls come tumbling down when he finds himself at an anonymous sex party called the Blue Room. The scene pulsates with carnal desires and a hint of danger. Bathed in a dazzling blue light, indiscernible bodies writhe to hypnotic electronic music, while Sequin enjoys an intense encounter with another man. As lust ignites what feels like love, Sequin searches for his unidentified hookup, only to get entangled in a web of lies, manipulation and predation.

That Sequin in a Blue Room was director Samuel van Grinsven’s graduate project is astonishing considering the film’s inspired visual panache, and the eroticism of the explicit depictions of casual sex. Leach’s performance in his first film acting credit is equally impressive; the way in which Sequin’s swagger gradually drains from his face to expose an inner vulnerability is incredibly moving. With such an impressive debut, Van Grinsven is surely one to watch.

Sequin in a Blue Room is released on 9 April on digital platforms.