(Image courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)
UC Riverside

Review: ‘Almost Love’ provides a honest look at relationships

Featuring a cast of eccentric personalities, “Almost Love” made its on-demand debut on Friday, April 3. It follows an openly gay couple named Adam and Marklin as they reach their five year dating anniversary.

Adam, portrayed by actor Scott Evans, is an affectionate painter living in the heart of New York City. His partner, Marklin, portrayed by Augustus Prew, is an accomplished social media influencer recognized for his fashion and lifestyle blog.

One of the elements that made “Almost Love” unique is that both Scott Evans and Augustus Prew are openly gay actors playing the role of openly gay characters. This was an intentional choice made by director Mike Doyle.

“I think there’ve been some movies of late that have gotten a lot of attention, and the non-gay romantic leads playing gay are applauded for their bravery, which just drives me crazy,” Doyle said in an interview with Variety.

Evans, who portrayed Adam in the film, shared how much it meant to him to see this level of representation.

“When I read the script in May 2018, I had to do a double-take,” Evans said. “It meant a lot to see myself on the screen.”

While he believes that Hollywood is making positive steps towards inclusivity in storytelling, he explained that growing up, he didn’t see characters like him portrayed in media.

Beyond the stereotypical tropes of high-fashion assistants and gay best friends, he explained that there wasn’t a story to encapsulate the day-to-day experiences, questions and moments that shape someone.

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Marklin (Augustus Prew) and Adam (Scott Evans) are the main characters of “Almost Love.” (Image courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

As the story evolves, it creates hard-hitting questions that have a familiar ring. While Adam lives his dream as a painter, the work is done for a famous artist and he doesn’t receive any credit.

The feeling of working incredibly hard to pursue your dream career, only to become in the background and not validated for it, is a feeling that feels true for so many young professionals.

What’s more, as Marklin grapples with being content with his success and longing for something deeper, he faces the unpredictable challenges of grief, mortgages, and bills.

“Almost Love” does not shy away from sharing these every day challenges that relationships face, in both their triumphs and successes.

Of course, Adam and Marklin are not alone in their journey. The ensemble cast features Cammy (Michelle Buteau), a divorcee faced with the shocking news that her current boyfriend, Henry (Colin Donnell) is homeless.

Then there’s Haley (Zoe Chao), a dedicated tutor trying to help Scott James (Christopher Gray) succeed in his classes, amidst his advances. Elizabeth (Kate Walsh) and her husband of 15 years, Damon (Chaz Lamar Shepherd) wrestle with ongoing challenges and questions in their marriage.

Above all, their close-knit community and chemistry with each other are unmistakable and authentically enriches the film.

“I didn’t know a single person in the cast before this film,” Evans said. “The ensemble cast is so great and they all make it so easy to play along.”

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In “Almost Love,” Cammy (Michelle Buteau) is faced with a surprising truth about her boyfriend. (Image courtesy of Vertical Entertainment)

Above all, it is only by seeing the characters in their seemingly unique situations that we find parallels in our own life and discover the ever-evolving idea of what it means to be sharing a relationship with someone. Relationships can be messy, and sometimes, the answers that people seek are not always there.

The uncommon scenarios that the characters find themselves in demonstrate the underlying common situations that real-life relationships undergo.

To love is to be vulnerable and “Almost Love” encapsulates an honest look of what it means to have unanswered questions, to find community and to move forward.

In a time of widespread social isolation and uncertainty about what the future may hold, this film provides a warm and candid look at being okay with not having it all figured it out just yet.

“Almost Love” is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Google Play and Vudu.