6th October 2017 6.30pm at Picturehouse Central
7th October 2017 1.00pm at Curzon Soho
Being gay within a strong, masculine environment must be tough. The pressure to conform to “straightness” would be a heavy weight to carry. People can never be who they truly are. Such is the heartbreaking story of Frankie (Harris Dickinson), a young gay man still deep inside the closet. He maintains a straight, alpha-male persona: hanging out with the lads, going out with a girl his age, and doing loads of drugs in clubs. In his leisure time, he meets older men off the internet and sleeps with them in forests and seedy hotel rooms.
Not a great deal happens in Beach Rats. The film possesses the same conflicts present in many LGBT movies, namely the concealment of real selves from those closest around them. The viewer watches as Frankie engages in transgressive activities, but there’s not much else. Writer-director Eliza Hittman seems content with creating a character and running into the unknown. Although Hélène Louvart’s dark cinematography engrosses the viewer into Frankie’s secret self, one can’t help but want more. It’s not until the end when something of significance happens, but then the credits roll and we’re left with nothing.
There’s still plenty to enjoy. Hittman has developed enough of her main character for the audience to follow him in whatever journey he’s taking. But we’re always expecting something that never happens. Knowing, in retrospect, that there really is nothing else, a second viewing doesn’t seem worth it.
The scenes are well-written and entice the audience into watching every character, even the ones without much personality or screen time. The dialogue chimes nicely with recurring images throughout the film, namely fireworks, compiling together into a visually rounded package.
Beach Rats is a nicely shot character piece, but not much more. Harris Dickinson creates a rare onscreen example of a masculine gay man, commanding his character with an intense suppression of his emotions. No crying allowed. There is barely a whiff of Carry On campness and Beach Rats presents a different, unseen section of the gay community. Alpha-males are no longer excluded.
Beach Rats is released nationwide on 24th November 2017
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Beach Rats here: