Electric, energetic and raw film-making is one of the greatest joys in cinema. It’s also one of the most difficult and complicated feats to achieve. Translating the verve and zest of real life onto the big screen has proved problematic for most directors. One of the greatest triumphs of 2015 was Sean Baker’s Tangerine. It was so vivid and vital. Truly breathtaking. Eliza Hittman’s second feature, Beach Rats, is equally impressive.
Frankie (Harris Dickinson) is struggling to come to terms with reaching manhood. His father is terminally ill and he doesn’t really know how to become the man of the house. Coming from a working-class area of Brooklyn, he spends most of his time hanging out with his friends at the beach and Coney Island; taking whatever drugs they can find. He spends his nights on chatrooms talking to men, but when he gets a new girlfriend (Madeline Weinstein) he struggles to come to terms with his sexuality.
Beach Rats is an exhilarating drama about masculinity and how the lines can be blurred between extreme heterosexuality and homoeroticism. Harris Dickinson is absolutely superb in his first lead role, portraying the confusion and conflicts of teen sexuality and growing up with deft nuance and empathy. Hittman shoots with a shrewd eye. A washed-out glow. A twisted fairytale. The supporting cast are excellent, adding to the air of authenticity. Beach Rats is beautiful and lyrical coming of age drama which brims with excitement and menace.
Beach Rats is out in cinemas the 24 November.