Writer/director Eliza Hittman—following up her 2013 Sundance feature It Felt Like Love—continues to find poetry in young people trying to figure out their sexual identity. Here, she tells the story of Frankie (Harris Dickinson), a Brooklyn youth who hides his interest in gay chat sites while putting on a straight front with his buddies, his family and a local girl (Madeline Weinstein) whom he begins dating. Hittman frames Frankie’s flailing and aimless days—living at home, seemingly unemployed and hanging with his friends getting high or playing handball—through the lens of his father’s terminal illness, providing a compassionate look at a guy who might come off as just another screw-up. But it’s mostly the tale of a guy who isn’t even ready to admit his sexual orientation to himself, with Dickinson’s performance captured in Hittman’s lingering close-ups of his anxious eyes as he experiments with men and probes those close to him to find out who might reject him. While the plot may be thin in a conventional sense, Beach Rats offers a simple, sad character study of someone unsure about where and how he might find love.
Director: Eliza Hittman
Producer: Brad Becker-Parton, Drew Houpt, Paul Mezey, Andrew Goldman, Philipp Engelhorn and Michael Raisler
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge, Nicole Flyus, Anton Selyaninov, Frank Hakaj, David Ivanov, Harrison Sheehan, Erik Potempa and Neal Huff