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Posts Tagged ‘Eliza Hittman’

“BEACH RATS”  My rating: B (Opens Sept. 15 at the Tivoli)

95 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Thirty years ago a film dealing with the subject matter of “Beach Rats” would have been labeled a “gay” film and aimed specifically at audiences looking for  a satisfying coming out story.

Well, that was then.

Eliza Hittman’s second feature (after “It Felt Like Love”) is about a young man who is probably gay, but it’s less obsessed with his sexuality than with his general cluelessness.

Frankie (Brit actor Harris Dickinson) lives in Brooklyn with his mother, younger sister and soon-to-be-dead cancer-riddled father. He’s out of school and jobless, and spends his summer hanging out on the beach with a few of his childhood friends, know-nothings whose world view is limited to vaping and the availability of pot and pussy.

Frankie has a secret. He’s been visiting online gay chatrooms, tentatively exploring the possibilities. Every now and then he’ll arrange for a tryst with one of these men, who are clearly smitten with Frankie’s body and all-American good looks.

Writer/director Hittman takes it for granted that Frankie’s gay.  But like a lot of young people he’s not sure what he is.

Early in the film he’s picked up by a local girl, Simone (Madeline Weinstein), who spots him at a Coney Island fireworks display and zooms in.  Frankie begs off that he’s too tired to have sex, but over several weeks he and Simone will get intimate.   It’s hard to say whether he enjoys the sex or simply views it as good camouflage, throwing off any friends or family members who suspect he swings another way.

If our protagonist were, say, a middle-class suburbanite, he’d probably find himself in an LGBT teen support group.  But Frankie’s living in a macho-drenched working-class corner of Brooklyn. About all he knows about being gay is that it’s majorly uncool with his vaguely criminal buds. (more…)

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