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An insightful film about a young man posing as high-born is both adventure and social commentary.

Duncan Roy's "AKA" is a scintillating "Vanity Fair" set in England and France in the late 1970s in which a young man of humble origins makes his way into an aristocracy that may be not what it once was yet still adheres as severely as ever to class distinctions.

By Kevin Thomas, Times Staff Writer

"AKA" Matthew LeitchDean Page (Matthew Leitch) is truly trapped, beset by a stepfather (Geoff Bell) who is worse than brutal and a loving mother (Lindsey Coulson) so intimidated by her husband that she won't even sign the papers that would allow her son the escape and opportunity a free

  government college education would provide. A waitress in a posh London restaurant, his mother fantasizes she is friends with the aristocratic women, Lady Francine Gryffoyn (Diana Quick) in particular, whom she serves day in and day out. In sheer desperation Dean runs away from home and applies for a job with Lady Francine at her art gallery.

Dean is just handsome enough and diffident enough to catch milady's fancy. Beneath an often nasty veneer, Lady Francine, a divorcée, is a vulnerable woman who knows she's hated by her peers because she must work for a living. All bodes well for Dean until he runs up against Lady Francine's son, Alexander (Blake Ritson), an insufferable snob jealous of him. Dean, however, has briefly crossed paths with a charismatic young American, Benjamin Halim (Peter Youngblood Hills), who tells him that Paris is the place to be.

AKA posterWith the same sense of desperation that drove him from his working-class home, he thus takes off for the City of Lights; when he sees that his lack of French will limit his chances of getting another art gallery job, he boldly declares to a dealer that he is indeed Alexander Gryffoyn. It's "Open sesame" for Dean, an instant entry into the French upper crust, a meeting with David Glendenning (George Asprey), a rich and handsome gay British aristocrat instantly taken with him — and currently keeping Benjamin, who has himself been driven away from a miserable home in Brownwood, Texas.

All these developments, much more intricate than outlined here, propel Dean to the heart of the matter; Dean becomes carried away by his assumed identity while becoming potentially caught in a dicey triangle with David and Benjamin. Amid a sharply observed swath of "La Dolce Vita"-like decadence, Roy suggests that with Dean caught between so jagged a rock and so hard a place at the outset of his story he had nothing to lose by his imposture even if it was hardly likely to last.

Gay kiss"AKA" has the spot-on performances and dialogue so typical of British fare but also is richly cinematic, which is not so typical. Roy is equally acute in his social, psychological and emotional observations, and their ever-shifting interplay in "AKA" is consistently amusing, poignant and insightful. Indeed, the far more aware and experienced Benjamin, in his insecurities and changeability, holds up for Dean amirror that Dean naturally resists peering into at all costs. As fresh in spirit and energy as the handsomely designed and photographed "AKA" is, it's timeless in its grasp of the immutable workings of human nature.

AKA is a 2002 drama film, the first by director and writer Duncan Roy. The film is set in the late 1970s in Britain and deals with the story of Dean, a 18-year old boy who assumes another identity in order to enter high society. Dean then meets David, an older gay man who desires him and Benjamin, a young Texan hustler. It is largely an autobiographical account of writer Duncan Roy's early life.


Gay escene AKA* Matthew Leitch as Dean Page
* Diana Quick as Lady Gryffoyn
* George Asprey as David
* Lindsey Coulson as Georgie
* Blake Ritson as Alexander Gryffoyn
* Peter Youngblood Hills as Benjamin
* Geoff Bell as Brian Page
* Hannah Yelland as Camille Sturton
* Daniel Lee as Jamie Page
* Bill Nighy as Uncle Louis Gryffoyn
* David Kendall as Lee Page
* Fenella Woolgar as Sarah
* Sean Gilder as Tim Lyttleton
* Robin Soans as Neil Frost
* Stephen Boxer as Dermot

The film has been nominated for several awards, especially in the gay community.

* 2002 — Nominated for the British Independent Film Awards.
* 2002 — Won the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.
* 2002 — Won the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
* 2002 — Won L.A. Outfest.
* 2002 — Won the Copenhagen Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
* 2003 — Nominated for the BAFTA Awards.
* 2003 — Nominated for the Emden International Film Festival.
* 2004 — Won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards.



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