Director: Eliza Hittman
Cast: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge
Country of Origin: USA 2017 95 mins. (15)
Released by Peccadillo Pictures
With a seedy Coney Island backdrop, writer-director Eliza Hittman's 'Beach Rats,' the follow up to her debut feature, 'It Felt Like Love' builds a compelling character study of a vulnerable teenager struggling with his sexual identity.
19-year-old Frankie (Harris Dickinson) lives on the outer edges of Brooklyn with his mother (Kate Hodge) who wants him to find a girl, his younger sister Carla (Nicole Flyus) and his father who's dying of a cancer and getting hospice care at home. Lazy, aimless, summer days are spent with his friends on the beach, swimming, playing handball and getting high. Trawling online gay websites and tentative flirts with older men mixes with self-assured Simone (Madeline Weinstein) who makes a play for Frankie but the web's the attraction and ventures into online hook ups at a nearby cruising beach sees robbery and violence creep into Frankie's life.
An authentic feel, naturalistic performances with dialogue and small detail centre place and Helene Louvart's cinematography mixing dark places with neon lit attractions, adds up to an assured and compelling second feature for Eliza Hittman.