Eliza Hittman’s award winning sophomore film portrays the complexity of finding and understanding one’s sexuality in a seemingly stalemate existence. Set in the working-class neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Frankie (Harris Dickinson,) is a teenager dealing with the external pressures of a life in limbo, a lack of security at home, and an internalized identity crisis that forces a constant search for escape.
Navigating the intricacy of secretly being attracted to men while trying to forge a not necessarily wanted relationship with his new girlfriend Simone (Madeline Weinstein); while keeping his homosexual tendencies hidden from his delinquent beach rat friends (David Ivanov, Anton Selyaninov, and Frank Hakaj,) Frankie’s internal confusion intensifies as he begins to meet and hookup with older men online.
The tensions, fear, desire, lust, and longing that come from the struggle of coming out, are acted to perfection in a breakthrough performance from Dickinson, a British actor in his feature debut that will surely garner him much attention. The exquisitely filmed intimate scenes capture every nuance of nervousness and excitement familiar to anyone of any gender or sexuality who has come of age.
This film is not just a coming out story but a story about being honest with one’s own desires and identity, and the dangers that come when we try to find the answers without being true to ourselves. It is not just a story for someone who may be questioning their sexuality, its a story for anyone involved in that process be it a mother’s maternal instinct, a best friend that sees too much, or a girlfriend that is caught between her own injected points of view of hetero-normative culture.
Hittlman does a beautiful job of showing us no matter who we are in this story, if we can imagine what that world would be like with open honesty, transparency, and acceptance, how differently it would all play out. “Beach Rats” grabs you by the heart and immerses you in the raw, honest, emotional trials and tribulations of a young man longing to find himself in the thick of the chaos and confusion that engulfs this period of his life.
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY:
Drew P. Houpt
2017- Sundance Film Festival – Winner of the Directing Award
2017- Boston Independent Film Festival – Winner Grand Jury Prize Narrative Feature
2017- Montclair Film Festival – Winner Future/Now Award
2017- Outfest Film Festival – Winner Grand Jury Award Screenwriting, U.S. Narrative Feature
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