Film Review: AKRON (USA 2016) ***

akron.jpgDirectors: Sasha King, Brian O’Donnell
Writers: Brian O’Donnell, Brian O’Donnell
Stars: Matthew Frias, Joseph Melendez, Edmund Donovan

Review by Gilbert Seah

After the gay lifestyle gained acceptance around the world, gay films appear to have exhausted all possible subjects. Issues such as coming out, sex change, gay marriage, teen love, transgender identity, gay bashing, prejudice, gay rights have all been covered in one gay film after another. Filmmakers with gay themed films have to resort to used subjects with a new twist or a new look to succeed. AKRON, a teen mid-western gay love story does just that.

“You don’t choose who you fall in love with?” Benny challenges his father during a confrontation in one of the film’s key scenes. It is a valid question and one that does not have a single answer. The film poses one big magic question: “Can love conquer all?” And the film, as in many love stories, has an obstacle to the romance. In this case it is a very huge obstacle.

This obstacle is observed in the film’s first scene, which appears at first to have no connection to the rest of the movie. When the connection is made, it generates a powerhouse effect.

A young boy, Christopher is at the supermarket with his mother. In the parking lot, the mother accidentally runs over and kills a boy. It turns out that the boy’s younger brother is Benny, who meets and falls in love with Christopher later on, the coincidence first unknown to both. When the truth emerges, the romance is challenged, first by Christopher and Benny individually, and then by Benny’s well-meaning parents. Sometimes, a secret might best be kept, but this is the movies.
The film is undoubtedly a tear-jerker. There are no scenes that are milked for sentiment, but the effect of the story is a powerful one.

The film clearly reminds one of first love, teen love and innocent love at that – whether gay or straight. The film could very well be a straight love story between a boy and girl, with not much difference in effect.

AKRON works as a film (ignore the 4.2 rating on imdb) for various reasons. For one, it is a sincere story of first love. One can always remember the first time one has fallen in love and thus, one can relate to the characters. The chemistry of the two leads are almost perfect. The two teens playing the leads are also excellent, particularly Matthew Frias, who looks like a younger version of Andrew Garfield.
The two actors portraying the teens are almost too perfect in terms of muscled bodies. The love makng is very erotic aided by the fact that they have almost perfect chiseled bodies and handsome faces. As the film is a teen romance, it is appropriate that no hardcore sex scene is presented – only ones with kissing and foreplay, thought these are erotic enough.

Though this well-made, sincere film should get a theatrical release, it goes straight to video. AKRON will be released February 7, 2016 on DVD and VOD via Wolfe Video. But AKRON is well worth a viewing. Warning, make sure you have lots of Kleenex. But it is good to have a good cry once in a while. At last these will be happy tears.


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