Rated: R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: September 15, 2017 Released by: Neon
A Brooklyn-based tale filled with hazy summer hedonism winds up in wrenching fashion and ushers in a new emerging talent that likely will be a very beneficial stepping stone.
Beach Rats will draw some comparison to the likes of Bully, Boys Don't Cry and Moonlight with a surreal combination of disaffected youth and sexual confusion. It simmers with atmosphere and concern, most notably, for its lead character in Frankie, endowed with much versatility by Britain's Harris Dickinson..
Frankie cruises the boardwalk with his delinquent buds for babes during the day, and has a flirtation with pretty Simone (a wonderful Madeline Weinstein) who has an attraction to the 19-year-old who's out of school and in an idling state. Frankie's aloof from his family, dwelling in the basement, hooking up to online gay websites where he has a fascination for older men. This is while his father (Neal Huff) is dealing with hospice care for a terminal illness. Being with Simone could make Frankie's life less complicated.
But, scribe/director Eliza Hittman (from Brooklyn) puts honesty and verisimilitude into emotions wavering around Frankie that glides by any predictability or inorganic rendering. Which unfolds from his vicissitudes with a palpable bracing sensitivity in her second outing about coming of age luminously lensed where repression is aligned against coming out.
Within the schematic that doesn't flesh out many characterizations, Beach Rats courts an internal potency which invites much empathy. To her credit, Hittman doesn't make any excuses for a young man caught in a rut of his own choosing preferring to self-medicate with his friends than to confide with loved ones. Like a concerned mom (Kate Hodge) and a quickly maturing sister (Nicole Flyus). Through those Coney Island fireworks a city by the sea has a raw vitality for the lovely and extremely unpleasant in Dickinson's memorably raw amelioration.