12 September 2014 | atlasmb
Surprisingly Intelligent Story About College Students
Based upon a play, "The Age of Consent" is a film of ideas. Although it might first seem like just another flippantly written pre-code story about young love, the title is the first clue. The age of consent in a particular jurisdiction is the age at which one can legally consent to sexual acts. Knowing this, the viewer might consider it an allusion to the line between immaturity and maturity that the students of State University ride. They are not yet ready for the responsibilities of adult life, but the educational process asks them to consider the large issues of life.
A stone bench on campus is the second clue to the serious ideas this film explores. "In loco parentis" is a Latin phrase meaning "in the place of a parent" and it is a concept regarding the (if you will, fiduciary) legal role of a college, upon accepting a student in its care, to assume some responsibilities of a parent and, therefore, some legal liabilities. That phrase is carved into this bench, where we see Professor David Matthews (John Halliday) offer parental advice and comfort to student Mike Harvey (Richard Cromwell).
Both legal concepts figure heavily in the story. The campus is a seemingly idyllic setting where students can exist in an ivory tower, away from the harsh realities of the outside world, to explore controversial and abstract ideas, like free love. But innocence resides there with burgeoning passions and the difficulties they present.
The moral relativism that many feared would result from abstract ideas and newer scientific principles, e.g. Darwinism and a revised astronomical view of man's place in the universe, come head to head with the "older" moral certainties of absolutism and church dogma. Will love find a place in the crossfire?
This film features good, sparkling dialogue and some excellent acting. The ending may be a surprise for many viewers.