I don’t usually write film reviews, but every now and then I encounter a film during which I cannot help but to wonder what I would write if I did reviews for a living.
This week, I had the chance to see Age of Consent (Bangor Films, USA/UK 2014) in a special showing organized by Vinokino, a local LGBT film organization in Helsinki, Finland. The following is my opinion of the film.
Filmed, directed and edited by Charles Lum and Todd Verow, Age of Consent aims to discuss the recent LGBT history of UK, while also portraying The Hoist in London as a groundbreaking venue for kinky folk. The film consists mostly of interviews of people associated with The Hoist, with the addition of a few other people in the LGBT scene in both the US and the US.
Unfortunately the film is a failure as a documentary, and features incredible lost potential in discussing important subjects. The historical timeline the film features is lacking, with important cases such as the Spanner trial, mentioned without any context, or even a decade for that matter. Political aspects of LGBT rights are ignored, and politicians are painted as simple devious individuals aimed at destroying the possibility of free, unlimited sex.
All of the serious political discussion is cross-cut with video of explicit penetrative anal sex, which might work as a parody of an over-the-top LGBT documentary, but which in this case is most likely either as an attempt to keep viewer attention, or worse, to gather up some risqué attention for the otherwise failed film.
The documentary does not shy away from simplifying the kinky scene of London, featuring implicitly The Hoist as a savior of the scene, conveniently either ignoring or mentioning in passing the numerous other clubs serving the scene in history or current day.
From a technical standpoint, Age of Consent attempts a cinéma vérité style of documentary, with noticeable absence of narration or background music. Unfortunately this proves mostly nauseating, hand-held video photography juxtaposed with cheaply made B-roll, in a futile attempt to break up otherwise obviously unprepared and blathering interviews. Any historical footage is absent.
In conclusion, any of the topics mentioned superficially in Age of Consent would be enough for a feature-length documentary. Age of Consent, however, fails to discuss any of the serious issues currently challenging the kinky community, or even to provide an adequate historical background to base any discussion on.