Beach Rats (2017)

  • Time: 95 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Eliza Hittman
  • Cast: Harris Dickinson, Kate Hodge, Madeline Weinstein

Storyline:

An aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn struggles to escape his bleak home life and navigate questions of self-identity, as he balances his time between his delinquent friends, a potential new girlfriend, and older men he meets online.

One review

  • (RATING: ☆☆☆☆ out of 5 stars)

    GRADE: B

    THE FILM IS RECOMMENDED.

    “Youth should not be wasted on the young.” – George Bernard Shaw

    Beach Rats was an overlooked film, a hedonistic tale of a Brooklyn adolescent conforming to the norm to avoid any glimpse of his homosexuality. The film is frank and quite graphic in its nudity and scenes of sex, both straight and gay, and director/ writer Eliza Hittman should be commended for her honest depiction of homophobia in this coming of age tale. She stays the course in showing the ugly side of youth.

    The film updates the Tony Manero generation to present day Long Island kids out for a good time, mixing drugs and sex to while away the night hours. We meet a rather unlikable group of well-toned misogynistic studs wasting their reckless lives. Whether at the beach or neighborhood amusement park, nothing in their everyday existence has much meaning. At the center of this gang is Frankie, a lost man-boy unable to deal with his true sexuality.

    Played by Harris Dickinson, Frankie is an enigma of emotional highs and lows. Surfing the internet on gay porn sites and hooking up with older men fills his needs and having a girlfriend, Simone, as his cover keeps everything right. Living in lower class housing with his parents, Bruce keeps relationship to family, girlfriend, and his gang of buddies at a safe distance. He is looking for love but cannot find any sustenance or small amount of happiness.This tale of aimless Long Island teens who are long on partying and short on smarts almost has a voyeuristic atmosphere, with Helene Louvant’s photography objectifying the male torso with homoerotic close-ups that border on pornography and art, ala Bruce Webber’s male figures. (The poor distribution of this film could not find a target audience. It played for only one night at my cinema, but can now be streamed or seen in a DVD format.)

    Mr. Dickinson, a young British actor, makes a stunning debut as Frankie. He is totally convincing in his Brooklyn accent and demeanor. He makes one feel for this character’s sexual confusion and also brings a vulnerable side to his machismo. Madeline Weinstein as Frankie’s loving but frustrated girlfriend and Kate Hodge as his long-suffering mother supply great depth to their characters as well.

    Beach Rat may well become a cult classic, at least in the annals of gay cinema. This cinema-verite approach is a fine character study of a man unable to be true to himself. The film doesn’t tidy up all of its narrative strands, but it is still a gripping drama about a lost generation waiting to be found.

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