Thursday, July 25, 2013

"White Frog": a teen with Asperger's struggles after his protective older gay brother dies in an accident

Wolfe has released its share of LGBT films that try novel situations and concepts and take us along for the ride.  That’s what I look for.
  
White Frog”, available in DVD and Amazon Streaming, is such a film.  It opens portraying a close relationship between two Chinese-American teen brothers living in southern California.  They both look mixed.  The older brother Chaz (Harry Shum, Jr.) seems All-American, and protects his socially backward younger brother, Nick (Booboo Stewart), who has somewhat severe Asperger’s.  Other kids don’t want Nick around because he needs “social skills” but Chaz seems welcome everywhere.
  
Chaz dies in a tragic auto accident while bicycling. It’s not shown (and neither are the expected police aspects), and the film suddenly confronts us with Chaz’s funeral out of the blue.  Nick is left alone. Slowly, however, Chaz’s friends start to accept Nick, partly because of a mutual connection to a volunteer community center for kids and teens.  First, Doug (Tyler Posey) looks after him, and then Randy (Greg Sulkin) starts teaching Nick to drive a car.  There are some interesting scenes where the kids play poker and Nick wins by counting cards, but angers others by his lack of consideration for their feelings.   Nick starts trying to look into Chaz’s past by cracking the password on his laptop.  Eventually, Randy confronts Nick with the history that Chaz was gay and that Chaz and Randy were dating. Both Posey and Sulkin look super in the film. 
  
Nick’s reaction is “moralistic” in a superficial sense.  The script shows an Asperger’s person as needing to see “rules” followed and attaching great meaning to them, even if in modern society the “rules” no longer make a lot of sense or in any community’s best interest (or violate basic human rights, for that matter).  But slowly, through a confrontation involving his parents and the volunteer center at the end, Nick comes to understand the whole situation.  “We are all different” he says, and makes an analogy to a lesson in biology class where a tadpole becomes a frog.

   
Wolfe’s site for the film is here

I was told "point blank" that I have Asperger’s by filmmaker Gode Davis when I met with him on New Year’s Day 2003 for dinner near his home in Rhode Island.  Since his passing, I don’t know what has happened to his “American Lynching” project.  As a child and then as a teen, I lacked physical competitiveness, and my behavior was eccentric, but not as fractured as Nick’s in the film.  My tendency to take things literally was more pronounced and disturbing when you put a lot of things together (the way school grades related to vulnerability to the military draft).  A couple of my famous quotes in high school: “All learning is memorizing” (and not just your trigonometry identities); “Don’t kiss her on the lips.” 

Let's see more films like this that "take risks" in the LGBT market!

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