Friday, March 18, 2016

BFI Flare 30: Akron (2016)

When Benny (Matthew Frias) and Christopher (Edmund Donavon) meet playing a friendly game of football during downtime at college, they quickly fall for each other and start dating.  Yet as their college finals approach and they prepare for a spring break trip to Florida, a secret from their past involving an interaction between their families creates a seemingly insurmountable wedge between them…

The moral of Akron is that gender and ethnicity do not matter – love is love.  And it is admirable that a family drama set in Ohio plays out without the slightest hint of homophobia or discrimination.  The two teens are passionate without being camp, intelligent without being social-justice activists, and (mostly) nice to their mothers without being complete mummy’s boys…

Yet Akron is a very safe movie.  The story is interesting – if not centred around an astronomical coincidence – and the performances are tender and compelling for the size of production.  But everything about the film feels very PG.  Not every LGBT film has to be edgy or erotic, but Akron‘s narrative does feel made for TV instead of the big screen.

Having said that, the relationship between the two teenagers is very sweet, and the focus on texting and recording each other on iPhones feels reassuringly contemporary.  College life feels kind of tame in Akron, OH, but at least the audience isn’t patronized into thinking every dorm room party is like Project X.

If in 20 years time ‘gay’ love stories are as common and natural as in Akron then the world will definitely be a nicer place for a lot of people…

Akron will play at BFI Flare 30 on Saturday 19th, and Sunday 20th of March

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