The Second Age of Aquarius: Break on Through, by David Bax
Even before the plot makes the connection literal (which, to be honest, happens almost immediately), the music on the soundtrack makes it clear that The Second Age of Aquarius is made by someone with an unselfconscious love for rock and roll, particularly the 1960s Sunset Strip pocket of California psychedelia that gave us such great acts as The Byrds, The Turtles and Love. The most popular band from that scene, of course, is The Doors, whose frontman Jim Morrison is a member of the tragic “27 Club” of musicians who died too young. He shares that fate with Russell Aquarius (Michael Ursu), The Second Age of Aquarius‘ fictional rock star brought back to a life (sorta) by some form of techomagic serendipity unleashed by a loner San Fernando Valley programmer named Alberta (Christina Jacquelyn Calph).
Director and co-writer (along with Darren Smith) Staci Layne Wilson thankfully doesn’t waste much time trying to explain how this is possible. This isn’t hard science fiction; it’s the kind of fun movie in which the narration comes from a rock and roll radio DJ. What’s important here is that Alberta is now more or less trapped in her small apartment with the reincarnation of a long dead rocker once idolized by her own grandmother.
That mean The Second Age of Aquarius unfolds entirely in a single location. This will prove to be important to Alberta’s arc but it’s also an obvious byproduct of the film’s micro budget. As such, it’s hard to fault Wilson too much for the way the movie looks but, still, the lighting is consistently too flat.
Then again, it’s hard to complain much when the film’s real visual treat is its being composed largely of two attractive people hanging around (or rolling around) in their underwear. Yet this is not a case of exploitation; sex and sexual politics are much on the movie’s mind. The physical connection between Russell and Alberta cannot be denied by either of them. But the former’s assumptions about gender are less than compatible. The Second Age of Aquarius could be described as the story of a woman who has the hots for a problematic man and must negotiate the line between seeing to her own sexual pleasure and indulging that man’s outdated view of the world.
It helps, of course, that Russell isn’t entirely real. Alberta is indulging in her fantasy version of a time and place she doesn’t actually remember in such a way that skirts the edge of danger and thus carries a thrilling charge. In this way, the film can be seen as a sister of sorts to Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho (though, despite seeming sheltered and even childish in the way she avoids curse words, Alberta is a less delusional protagonist than Thomasin McKenzie’s Eloise). The Second Age of Aquarius suggests that the past and present are in conversation with one another but only the present can change the topic.