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IMDB rating:
Eliza Hittman
Neal Huff as Joe
Erik Potempa as Michael
Gabriel Gans as Eddie
Harris Dickinson as Frankie
Nicole Flyus as Carla
Frank Hakaj as Nick
David Ivanov as Alexei
Christian Whelan as Rough Guy
Kate Hodge as Donna
Kris Eivers as Edgar
Storyline: An aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn struggles to escape his bleak home life and navigate questions of self-identity, as he balances his time between his delinquent friends, a potential new girlfriend, and older men he meets online.
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a map. more than a film. for an age, for near reality, for the relations, romance, friendship, loss of time and absence of life purpose. about exercises of happiness. and about family. about death and fall, illusions and desire. the best performance - Kate Hodge as Donna. the most surprising - Harris Dickinson in the lead role. a drama who, after its end, seems predictable. because all is simple. the gray circle, the relations as sketches, good intentions and the way as obscure sketch. for this fact, it is an useful film. maybe, for understand. or , only , for reflect.
Pretty bad, sadly...
What we have here is anomie and lots of it...and then, more anomie. It start off well...it kind of channels a Larry Clark movie (or a movie Larry Clark might have wanted to make)....and just as quickly as you think you might be watching something special, nothing else happens. We don't even get to know the fate of the victim...in a film with so little plot, that really is a travesty. Pretty boresville, folks.
Why was this reviewed well?
I drove 30 miles to see this art house film because I read two favorable reviews of it in national periodicals. For only the second time in recent memory I left before it ended. A few moments were closely observed and genuine, but the story development was mostly unbelievable, unpleasant-to-cringe-worthy, and I dreaded it becoming a gay Looking For Mr. Goodbar (Diane Keaton, 1977). Cruising Jersey Shore would have been a better title. I wouldn't want to spend one minute with any of the characters in this movie.
Seen at the Viennale 2017: A guy is really really bored. And we have to watch him on screen. He is gay and takes drugs. And he meets older men. So what? I cannot really believe, that boys like him exist. At least he is gay and is looking for sex. I assume that a young boy who is eager for sex has a vital force in himself, driving him to stupid ideas and encounters. But this boy does not have any urge in him. I guess, in reality he would not even search for sex with such low energy in him. I guess, the real gay boys on that beach are much more filled with energy, what cannot be imagined or shown in an art movie by a director without similar inner needs. Real life is not that lifeless.
Doesn't really go anywhere
This is another one of those gay themed movies that tries to show some deeply hidden emotions or something, but instead goes nowhere.

Let's start with what's good first... Most of the cinematography is pretty good - expect for overly shaky camera in few scenes. There is a lot of eye candy in terms of shirtless guys and more - can help in making the movie at least a bit more interesting. And the acting isn't totally bad. At least the actors don't feel stiff.

Sadly that is where good things end. There is little dialogue in the movie, though that is not always a bad thing. But in this movie it actually is. Because we don't really see any character development and no real story. We have a young guy that takes drugs, has sex with older men and spends time with his friends doing stupid things. That's almost the entire story. Backing characters have no names, no personality and really don't do anything. Main character... pretty much the same. No ambitions, no desires, no anger, nothing. He just is. Pretty much the whole thing can be seen in the trailer.

You will get the same story if you look at pictures of random strangers in a city near a beach. Though those will probably have more depth. Overall I can't really recommend this one. If you want teens coming to terms with life and their sexuality go watch something like Hidden Kisses or Boys and leave this one alone.
Pity...c(sh)ould have been better
"Beach Rats" Much hyped but very disappointing. The theme of a young man trying to figure out his sexuality is fertile ground for any story, literary or cinematic, because it's an on-going real life struggle for many. This shallow, one-dimensional attempt though, while full of the vacillating that must accompany such a personal conundrum, doesn't shed any light on its main character's dilemma or suggest any way for him to find a solution - if there is one.

Let's get one thing out of the way: Harris Dickinson as Frankie, the lead character and the only one that's fleshed out to any degree whatsoever, at 20 is perfectly cast, easy on the eye to both gay and straight people and therefore his scenes, and he is in every one (the movie should've been more properly titled "Beach Rat"), ring true and create much of the reality with which this film attempts to cloak itself. It's certainly not his fault that that attempt falls flat partly because the rest of the cast are cardboard cutouts - I don't remember if we ever know the names of the other three of the group with which he hangs, let alone know anything about them (where they live, what if anything they do for a living, what their interests are other than drugs and women). They're just there! Consider that Frankie a neophyte to the gay world and is shown via a sequence of scenes to go from a) peering through his fingers at men in the chat room to b) refusing their offers to meet ("I don't do that") to c) accepting an offer and bottoming for a guy in the bushes without any seeming discomfort. As another example of how fatuous this movie really is, let's take the penultimate scene (what in a Shakespearean play would be the climax - not the end but the point at which a decision or action creates an inevitability for the rest of the plot). The guys want to buy some weed and are desperate it seems. How any group of 20-somethings in New York City with their lifestyle can't find weed is beyond me but we need that pivotal plot point. Out of the blue, as they are all sitting on a bench somewhere, Frankie suggests that they roll a gay guy and grab his weed. Take any group of very straight young men and make that suggestion and there would be, I suggest, an explosion of emotion. Here we get mild amusement, minor surprise, practical questions ("What do you have to do in return?" to which Frankie mimes oral sex) and then acceptance with further questions of how to go about it. Frankie of course has the answer and next we see the group in Frankie's room where he is on his computer trolling a gay chat room (which we've seen him do before) and engaging potential victims there. The other three are a little (I stress "little") shocked but quite blasé about the whole thing only once asking him how he knows about this site to which he replies, "Oh I just found it" or words to that respect. There was never any revulsion on the part of the group, no accusation that Frankie was gay. Nothing. I found that just plain silly and dumb as a portrayal of what would have really happened: the anger, disgust, accusations, shunning. That whole sequence is part of what's terribly wrong with this film.

There are any number of loose ends scattered throughout: characters and situations that are just left hanging. Example: In the group, the smallest fellow (don't know his name - see above) has an enigmatic role as there are several times when the camera focuses on his face looking at Frankie in a more than casual way. I found that suggesting that just maybe he had fond thoughts about his friend. This was never developed one way or the other. During the beach scene where they mug the other guy for his dope, this fellow (I'll call him #4) does not join in but disappears back into the bush. The other three emerge to the parking lot with the weed but #4 is nowhere around. Nobody misses him or asks where he is; we never have any inkling of his motivation for leaving or where he went. Nothing! Previously when the group goes swimming (the one and only time they have anything to do at the beach - (why the title?)), #4 does not go into the water but after the other three strip down to their underwear and dive in, in a shot from the back it looks like he's pumping himself up (or jerking off). What's that all about? We never know.

The only person in the film who shows any kind of depth and growth over its length is Simone, Frankie's erstwhile girlfriend who, having picked him up at a club to get laid, tries to make a boyfriend out of him even though she describes him as a "fixer-upper" (a term I'm glad she explains to him). However, this relationship never seems a strong part of the plot, balanced against his lifestyle and his dabbling in gayness.

The editing was jumpy; scenes didn't dissolve one into the other so much as one just abruptly ended and another began. Not to suggest that they weren't sequential but rather that they felt disjointed. After the mugging, the last shot in the parking lot focuses on the small bag of pot that they'd scored. Cut to Frankie in bed the next morning with his mother standing over him. There are more satisfying ways to get from one scene to the other rather than jumping like that.

Overall, the film was a great disappointment, partly I think because I could have been so much better.
A small slice of white working class in Brooklyn without hope
'Beach Rats' has received positive reviews.Is it worthy of them? Eliza Hit-man's 'Beach Rats' protagonist Frankie has nothing going for him. In a way, he's 'Saturday Night Fever's' Tony Manero of the 21 century. Like Tony he lives with his family, but unlike him, he doesn't work; he's listless. Unlike Tony who has no future other than working in a local paint shop,but lives for the weekends dancing; on the other hand, Frankie is a sixes and sevens, trolling the web for trysts with older men for sex. Unlike Tony who is sure of his sexuality (he adjusts his junk before a mirror before going off to a discotheque). Frankie fears his homosexuality. (Older men don't live in Frankie's world, so it is a 'condom' to protect his doubts and secrets._ Hit-man has created a closed world of the white working class in Gravesend or Sheepshead in the wake of 9/ll and the 2008 world recession. It is a bleak world,a world that for Frankie and his friends with boundaries that end in Coney Island or the bushes of the Belt Parkway where Frankie has sex. A closed in world with no exit: Frankie hangs with three friends, who, like him, are more teenagers than adults. We know little about them, other than Frankie supplies them with marijuana and his dying father's pain killers to dull the pain cancer causes. Frankie is in his own world;he lives in the basement with his computer he uses to find men... They play handball, a sport that once was an important sport in Brooklyn, but no more. And they congregate in a smoke shop, and live for the weekend at Coney Island, seeing the same fireworks week after week, ogling girls, going on rides and getting stoned. Frankie hooks up with Simone a salesgirl with no future too.She chooses Frankie because he's sexy and more pretty than handsome. Frankie's a cynic of sorts; he asks here if she had sex with another girl; she had which she characterizes as 'hot'; he then asks her what about two men who have sex; her reply is a curt..they're gay. Even sex with her remains a last resort, as his sense of self walks on the edge' Frankie is becomes more an outsider as he retreats into self doubt and afraid to come to terms with who he is. Frankie and his friends will stoop to pickpocket on the boardwalk to pay for a weekend of fun, drugs and feel 'strong' and manly, not aimless and lost. Ultimately Frankie lets his friends in his secret as a way to get 'weed'. The victim is beaten and left in the Atlantic to fend for himself. And he seeks respite on the boardwalk of Coney Island, alone and no more sure of who he is... As a sociological statement, 'Beach Rat' is worth seeing. As a film, it has the feel of a graduate school exercise. Coney Island is wonderfully photographed, but Brooklyn remains elusive as does Frankie.
Could've been better
Harris Dickinson gives an amazing performance as the sexually confused aimless teenager who also faces family tragedy and drug problems. The whole film works well telling the story from his perspective. But the film lacks the ambition to expand the themes touched by it. It should've been daring in exposing the problems faced by the protagonist and the results of his actions. While what's been shown catches the state of mind of the protagonist perfectly, it feels like the film ends without telling everything it could and should have.
Not a character to care for
Admitted, I did not applaud when the film was over at the Viennale screening two days ago. It is difficult for me to carry a torch for a character who seems so indifferent about himself, so hopeless and sometimes cruel. One can argue that it is a piece of life and people like him exist. They do, no question about that. But is it worth watching a guy 90+ minutes not getting his act together? This is up to everyone's own judgment.

The problem with the main character Frankie is, he is so boring! The film doesn't give you anything sympathetic or at least interesting about him. The fact that he is gay might have been interesting enough 20 years ago but not anymore. A lot of the discussion in reviews rotates around his search for sexual identity. I wonder if anyone noticed that his life would not be much easier or clearer if he would be straight like his buddies. They don't share his secret longings but they hang out together most of the time and do the same things. Beside his meeting elder men for sex, his drug consume and criminal acts, his indifference toward his family would be the same.

Throughout the film we are constantly looking at close-up and medium shots of naked male skin, the gang is shown either with slim undershirts or shirtless. If these would be scenes with women we would call this an exploitation movie.

But yes, his sexual uncertainty is of importance to the story when it comes to women. When a girl tries to date him he reluctantly acts up to what he thinks is expected of him, but soon fails on all fronts. The best scene of the film is when his girlfriend pulls the brake and tells him off. Asked why, she explains to him, he is a ruin, too much would be necessary to make him over and she would only want to see him again after he has been renovated.

Despite the fact that he is in almost every scene we learn very little about him. We don't learn anything about his buddies. We see glimpses of his family and I wondered how his mother took so long to realize that her son is in trouble.

There are interesting moments in the film but overall not enough development to care much.
Boring and Predictable
As usual with the Sundance darlings, I can't understand what possessed the people who saw this to award it with a prize of any sort. It's very tedious to sit through the scenes of the lead character ("Frankie?") emoting the same dogged look on his face in every shot. He seems to have one reaction to everything -- kind of a vapid, listless stare. I don't see how it evokes any kind of emotion to the scenes going on around him. To say that this is an original story would be very generous to the writer/director. I feel like I've seen this plot and set of characters before, but done better. Every scene was played out by the book, so we know exactly what will happen before it does, and there are many unfocused scenes (both in the writing and the shaky-cam cinematography). I got very ansy trying to accept that the 3 other male characters would easily go along with the idea of searching a gay male dating app for a bag of weed (huh? Are these guys all in some kind of mental black hole?) And the idea that the lead character would ask them to search for weed on a gay dating site is completely absurd. In general, the plot is very limited -- they do nothing, they smoke vapes, they do nothing again, they try to score weed, they do nothing again, and there are a couple of yawns over some forced communication, and the movie drags on. I finally had to stand up and leave before it ended because I was in danger of falling asleep.
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