By Tristen Calderon, Staff Writer
Sasha King and Brian O’Donnell’s new film “Akron” tells the sweet and simple story of two boys who fall in love in college. With honest representations of homosexuality in mainstream media still lacking, a story like this one should carry some impact. However, the uninspired attempt at writing drama and creating conflict paired with generic technical production completely takes away from the sincerity of the story and its characters.
O’Donnell made a welcome decision to focus the film on the lives of two young, gay lovers and have the conflict of the film not hinder on their love. But unfortunately, the story was not a slice of Benny’s life as it should have been. The story in fact starts years ago.
The first scene of the film shows two mothers leaving a store. The first is accompanied by her son; the second, pregnant and accompanied by two sons. The first mother starts her drive out of the parking lot and collides with the second mom’s older child, killing him on impact. With absolutely no indication that this woman was distracted or incapable of driving, the sole conflict of the plot centers on the question of whether this woman accidentally hit that boy.
Fast forward to Benny (Matthew Frias), studying to be a doctor, coerced into playing a game of pickup football where he meets Christopher (Edmund Donovan). The pair’s romance develops a little too quickly to be believable, and the actors’ performances at this point is not overtly loving. In an absurd twist, it is revealed that Chris’ mother was the woman who accidentally hit the child all those years ago — and that the child had been Benny’s brother. Thus the conflict arises, and characters are weakly written into stances of unreasonable anger, distrust and discomfort.
The film’s overall pacing was too quick and the whole structure of scenes felt divided; the writing of the characters was too weak and inconsistent, preventing any substantial development of character. As a result, many of their actions seem unmotivated and inconsistent. Performances on the part of of Joseph Melendez and Edmund Donovan give the story plenty of heart, but not as much as it needs.
The directorial choices and cinematography were very plain; frequently, the intimacy of the story felt disturbed by the aspects parts rather than aided by it. The dialogue was closer to a television drama, and the story did not have enough substance for a feature-length film. “Akron” was overall not bad, but was too unrefined and too generic-looking to be called a good film.
Herein lies the lesson that a progressive or controversial topic does not automatically make for a good film. Giving this film a beaming review and a high recommendation would be more of a disservice to the issue of gay representation genre than a service. The remarkable coincidence within the story and the character reactions wholly broke the reality of the film.
Though it was a good and honest step in the right direction, the pieces did not function well enough together to make this film remarkable on its own. A peek into the life of a bright young man who happens to be gay is a story audiences will gladly see, but only if it holds tastefully, honestly and dramatically.
Email Tristen Calderon at firstname.lastname@example.org.