Age of Consent


by Johnny Web

Age of Consent (1969) is a story about a middle-aged Australian artist (James Mason, with an Aussie accent, sort of) who has lost his inspiration, so moves to a remote island to recapture his connection with nature. (The film was actually lensed on Dunk Island in the Great Barrier Reef area.) His nearest neighbor on the island is a crazy old alcoholic granny and - here's the good part - her very young and free-spirited granddaughter (Helen Mirren), who becomes the artist's model and muse. Various mischief ensues. There are some sub-plots about the girl's would-be boyfriend and the artist's former colleague who visits and steals some money, but the point of the film is basically Helen Mirren getting naked and James Mason painting her to reinvigorate his ... er ... artistic muscles.

While not exactly a weighty milestone in cinema history, Age of Consent is a very pleasant, old-fashioned movie with the additional kicker of copious nudity. Made in 1969 in Australia, it exercised that era's new sense of social and cinematic freedom with plenty of sensuous flesh from a young, curvaceous, pre-regal Mirren in her nude debut. While the script has some serious underlying ideas and is not precisely a zany comedy, it has plenty of laughs. I guess it's what reviewers used to call a gay romp, back in a day when that phrase had a different meaning.

The nearest film in spirit is probably the legendary nudefest Sirens, and there is a very direct connection between the two films. Sirens is a fictional story about a genuine Australian artist named Norman Lindsay, who lived apart from civilization with his family and his coterie of models in a tropical paradise where everyone frolicked about guiltlessly naked while Lindsay painted and sculpted them into works of art. His creations sort of blend Rubens and Gauguin into celebrations of a naked female form which is inevitably full-hipped, large-breasted, and liberated. Lindsay was one of those guys with boundless mental energy. Not content with being merely a painter and sculptor, he was also a prolific editorial cartoonist, a novelist, a poet, and an author of children's books - although you more conservative types might not want your children exposed to Lindsay's thought process.  Here is his Wikipedia entry if you would like a quick summary of his achievements. You will notice that among those achievements is a novel called Age of Consent, which brings us to the connection between this movie and Sirens.

Lindsay certainly knew a thing or two about the subject matter of this film since it is partially autobiographical. James Mason, imperfect accent notwithstanding, was in top form as Lindsay's surrogate, and kept his usual oily mannerisms completely in check. Mirren, with her abundant hips and breasts, had (still has actually) the perfect body for a Lindsay model. At various times Mirren swims about in the buff, poses for nude paintings, and just admires her own impressive knockers in the mirror. Overall, Age of Consent is a pleasant way to pass the time, and was a moderate hit in its era.


A fully restored version of this film was shown at the Sydney Film Festival in 2005 and it is apparently now available on DVD in Australia, but has yet to make it onto a Region 1 DVD.



There are no major reviews online.


6.2 IMDB summary (of 10)




  • Helen Mirren got completely naked several times, including some fleeting shots of her pubes.
  • Clarissa Kay-Mason exposed her breasts briefly.
  • Jack MacGowran showed his bum.


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It's a competent, old-fashioned comedy spiced up by copious nudity. Or maybe it's a C+. Whatever the precise grade, it's an easy if somewhat trifling way to pass the time.