The Review/Short Read/
One to Watch: Beach Rats
A Brooklyn teenager’s queer coming-of-age through one lethargic summer
WHY TO WATCH: Eliza Hittman’s second feature, Beach Rats — now playing at TIFF Bell Lightbox — premiered at Sundance, where it earned comparisons to Claire Denis’ Beau Travail. Perhaps that accolade comes thanks in part to the filmmaker’s rugged portrayal of masculine bodies in motion, captured with great sensitivity amid the working-class neighbourhoods and boardwalks of South Brooklyn. Beach Rats centres on one summer in the life of 19-year-old Frankie (Harris Dickinson), who is navigating the boundaries of his sexual identity both by spending time with his girlfriend and, on the side, arranging sexual encounters with men he meets online. Hittman’s portrait of Frankie’s hazy sensuality is non-judgemental, and displays rare insight into how a new generation employs technology in pursuit of their own fragmented desires. This makes Beach Rats the perfect film to extend your summer into late September, crafted by a brave new American independent filmmaker who isn’t afraid to punctuate her scenes with the riotous burst of fireworks, or the Bressonian art of pure silence.
THE CRITIC'S TAKE:
“Hittman's depictions of sexuality, emotional crisis, and parent-teen relationships are rendered here without sentimentality — and with the burning urgency of a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse.”