Absurd but great, AKIN tackles isolation from other people in a world growing increasingly distant from the idea of having a physical connection with another human, which may be what we all need in our lives.
In a world where everyone has mannequins for mates, Burton is forced to find his missing wife when he receives the wrong mannequin.
Burton is a man struggling to find a genuine connection in the world. The fact that his ‘wife’ is a mannequin, but to him, a particular mannequin, tells you a lot about him. He has grown distanced from a world where humans talk and connect with one another and has retreated to having relationships with objects instead. As humans, we all fear that if we do something wrong in a conversation or a poor reaction, etc, we will lose our connection with someone real.
That doesn’t happen with an object; they can’t shrug you off or look disappointed in anything you say or do. They can be programmed to say whatever you want them to, and it seems people like Burton have latched onto that for all they are worth. AKIN takes on the battle almost everyone has encountered of the phoneline customer service headaches. Only here we see it in real life as Burton is passed on from one department to another, with all the customer service agents being mannequins with automated voice controls. You will chuckle along until you realise just how spot-on writers Keaton B MCD and Curtis Tyson-Dieroff have gotten it here.
Clive Knellar is relatable here in AKIN, a man who is full of desperation and loneliness; you see his need to have what is his returned to him. It just so happens that that thing is a mannequin that he has deemed his wife. As he goes on his journey to get her back, he slowly comes to the realisation that perhaps having a partner who is an object is not the best thing for him. Maybe, just maybe, having a real connection with a human being is something he yearns for. As a character, you could easily struggle to connect with him. Still, Knellar’s ability to keep us from just laughing at him and for our emotions towards him to turn when he becomes more needful for a human to talk to him pulls at you.
As Burton’s anger and frustrations grow, the state of the wrong mannequin that he has been dragging along with him gets worse and worse, a physical representation of his current mental state. Though the continual shots of the prosthetic penis may just be there for the giggles, boy does it work. It was a well-utilised prop, from the first reveal to when we last see it dangling about. There are also little lines thrown in that bring a chuckle that you may miss on the first watch, the receptionist giving Burton a run down on his options for a new… companion and is presented with Tiny, what looks like either a very small adult mannequin or worse a child one. But it is said that Tiny is very popular with Burton’s middle-aged demographic, which is just grim.
While we have those comedic, almost absurd moments in AKIN, the underlying message really makes it work. Yes, this man loves an inanimate object and is desperate for her return. Still, he is also astutely aware that she is a product, as he doesn’t wholly talk about her as if she is real. Yet he thinks he loves her, and it is only when he is confronted with the realisation that she is a product that his mind opens up.
AKIN is a solid short film from Keaton B MCD and shows he has much promise as a filmmaker. You laugh and feel for Burton; in any film, that’s all you ask for, to care. MCD has us do that, and then some throw in that great bit of absurdism, and you have a winner of a short.
The Bolton International Film Festival is running physically from October 4th – 8th and Online from the 11th – 22nd October. For more information please click here
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