Seen in New Directors/New Films (2017): Eliza Hittman follows up her acclaimed debut It Felt Like Love with this sensitive chronicle of sexual becoming. Frankie (a breakout Harris Dickinson), a bored teenager living in South Brooklyn, regularly haunts the Coney Island boardwalk with his boys—trying to score weed, flirting with girls, killing time. But he spends his late nights dipping his toes into the world of online cruising, connecting with older men and exploring the desires he harbors but doesn’t yet fully understand. Sensuously lensed on 16mm by cinematographer Hélène Louvart, Beach Rats presents a colorful and textured world roiling with secret appetites and youthful self-discovery. A Neon release.
COMMENTS FROM THE FF2 MEDIA TEAM
After a successful debut with It Felt Like Love, writer-director Eliza Hittman brings us Beach Rats. She partners with Director of Photography Hélène Louvart to tell the story of a sexually confused teenage boy who finds himself lost in a world where there is no “coming out”.
The movie follows “Frankie” (Harris Dickinson), who meanders between three social spheres he tries to keep separate: his barely functioning family, his ‘beach rat’ friends, and his relationship with the self. So many times we see him act impulsively and dangerously as he yearns for acceptance, whilst simultaneously fearing the embarrassment that his secret explorations could lead to. Eliza Hittman’s film portrays Frankie as a young boy who tries hard to reconcile these three spheres, but each attempt leads to further affirmation of how separate they really are.
Beach Rats is Hittman’s way of reminding us just how destructive it can be to “hide who you are from your family, community, and society”.
© Katusha Jin (3/19/17) FF2 Media
Feedback from FF2 Associate Eti Or: Beach Rats is compelling from its very first shot. The flashes of light coming and going in the dark — body parts popping out and then disappearing — catch your attention and hold it for the rest of the film. The close-up shots throughout the entire film give the same feeling. Beach Rats is all about showing some aspects of the truth even while hiding most. Only the viewer — not the character — is allowed to see the big picture.
While it is a “coming of age” story, it also about the hardship of living a lie and hiding in a closet of confusion. Beach Rats has a lot of fun moments which reminded me of what was it like to be a teenager. On the other hand, as an adult, I felt the urge to wrap my arms around an agonized kid named “Frankie” (Harris Dickinson), and help him through. Beach Rats broke my heart, but in a good way. © Eti Or (3/19/17) FF2 Media
Feedback from FF2 Intern Katusha Jin: The movie begins with a teenage boy taking close-up, topless pictures of himself in a mirror. Sympathy and a subtle sense of pity is instilled in us as we are introduced to this young boy’s life. We see his struggles as he outgrows his teenage shell and searches for direction. We witness his pain as he experiences the beginning of a transition into the raw shell of an adult, which has yet to form its shape. © Katusha Jin (3/19/17) FF2 Media
Feedback from FF2 Associate Isabell Höjman It is tainted by intimacy and takes the form of a docudrama. It is moody, yet subtle. While we follow Frankie in his sexual awakening we also get a close relationship with both the city and his friends. It’s a poignant movie that you have to see. © Isabell Höjman (3/19/17) FF2 Media
Top Photo: Dickinson with Madeline Weinstein as “Simone.”
Middle Photo: Harris Dickinson as “Frankie.”
Bottom Photo: At FilmLinc’s post-screening Q&A with cast & crew.