Beach Rats (2017)

Frankie’s a young man with a group of macho friends who like to hang out on the boardwalk and eye up the young women in the evenings. They fill their time playing ball sports together and smoking weed, and have a very laddish time. At home though, Frankie has a seriously ill father and a penchant for searching online for older men with whom he can meet up. But Frankie is so much a part of his macho circle of friends that it is impossible for him to find a way to tell them that he is gay, and in covering it up provokes even more internal conflict and external violence than before.

What’s amazing is how much of this internal torment we see just in the face of Harris Dickinson. The camera is often really close-up on him and as he’s a young man of few words, fleeting expressions convey everything. It’s an incredible performance from such a fresh face.

There’s something going on with one of his friends, the quietest of the group, who sinks into the background on more than one occasion when things are getting tough. It’s almost imperceptible and we never get to the bottom of why, but it’s almost as if he too is gay or at the very least has a crush on Frankie, and chooses to absent himself instead of joining in when things get too rough.

I think it’s a mark of a good film when I continue to wonder what has happened to Frankie since I left him on the beach, and I hope he has found some happiness in the meantime. Although somehow I doubt it.

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