Beach Rats, a not-quite-coming-out drama set in the world of Brooklyn boardwalk bros, boasts a breakout turn from Brit Harris Dickinson
Writer-director Eliza Hittman made a splash on the festival circuit in 2013 with It Felt Like Love, an intimate portrait of a 14-year-old girl’s rush into sexual discovery. Her follow-up feature, Beach Rats, similarly deals with the sexual awakening of a teen, albeit with key differences.
The first is that the protagonist, Frankie (Dickinson, a Brit newcomer with a convincing Brooklyn accent), is an older male teen. The second is that he’s already well-versed in courting girls; what he’s navigating in secret, hidden from his boardwalk bro buddies and a potential new girlfriend, is an interest in meeting up with older men he messages online.
Frankie’s evasive about more than just rationalising his bi-curiosity: he's bottling up emotions about a recent family tragedy, and whiling away the summer with weed and weights. Hittman’s film, gorgeously shot on 16mm, focuses on young male physicality in a way rare for American cinema, and this combined with its study of a specific form of masculinity makes Beach Rats like an intoxicating mix of Saturday Night Fever and Claire Denis’ Beau Travail.
Released by Peccadillo Pictures