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5.0 out of 5 stars artful and true, 25 April 2009
M. FUSCO "yawnmower" (NEW YORK, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Aka [DVD] [2002] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
AKA is writer/director Duncan Roy's thought-provoking memoir of his own youth. He escaped from a brutal, sexually abusive working-class household by assuming the identity of a young aristocrat and became famous - or notorious, rather - in the process.

Mr. Roy's movie is brilliantly written, directed, and cast. Matthew Leitch is perfect as Dean, the handsome, sweet, innocently seductive young man who desperately wants a better -- or, to be more precise, another -- life. His intelligence, looks, charm, and manner make people want to believe he is who he says. All the actors are notable and entertaining. Two are exceptional: Diana Quick as the prickly patrician Lady Gryffoyn, whose son Dean impersonates; and George Asprey as the striking, urbane, gay aristocrat who takes Dean under his wing. Heir to the Asprey fortune in real life, he was born for the part.

Aside from the fascinating story, imaginative photography done solely with available light, and perfect musical support, AKA is a scathing portrayal of the English class system, where aristocrats rely on certain cues (accent, pronunciation, name, manners, schooling, demeanor) to identify one another and preserve their exclusivity. Dean lives as 'one of them' successfully and happily for over a year. After which he says, quite truthfully (if Mr. Roy's portrait of Alexander Gryffoyn is in any way accurate in its mean-spirited snobbery), that he was a better Lord Gryffoyn than the real one could ever be. Mr. Roy also depicts a working class equally complicit in maintaining 'place' and limited social mobility.

After watching the single screen version, the three-screen triptych version, as it was released theatrically, is an interesting complement which adds dimension to the story. Mr. Roy's commentary track is illuminating politically, and enlightening cinematically. His film is a very personal work of art. The entire ensemble is outstanding, but the talent and beauty of Matthew Leitch form the solid core on which the story rests.
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Aka [DVD] [2002] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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