Beach Rats Screen 22 articles

Beach Rats

2017

Beach Rats Poster
  • If we go to the cinema to acquire knowledge, take in new images and understand different perspectives, Hittman has very little wisdom to offer, adopting conventional beats omnipresent in most mainstream queer cinema. Beach Rats is made in an established aesthetic mode and narrative schema and does little to rejuvenate or complicate these ubiquitous forms.

  • Despite the reams of exquisitely shot, up-close-and-Denis-esque-personal close-ups of hands on arms and other body parts in isolation, subjective snapshots of sexual fixation, I never got the sense of queer desire rendered viscerally. What would I know about this? Not much, but thinking about this comparatively discreet work relative to Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake. . . . underlines how the film seems more pained than excited even at moments of character arousal.

  • Hittman is a considerably less engaging writer than she is a director. Little effort is made to make a coherent character out of Beach Rats's would-be love interest, Simone (Madeleine Weinstein), who at first throws herself at a disinterested Frankie, then willingly engages in a night of heavy recreational drug use, only to break up with him because he's too much of a “fixer-upper.”

  • On a conceptual level, it’s immaculate. . . . But Hittman turns out to be a conventional storyteller; despite her evocative styling and Dickinson’s surprisingly assured lead performance, her sophomore feature remains confined in monotonous, psychologically shallow coming-of-age-drama indiedom. It’s a shame, as Beach Rats has one of the year’s best parting shots. In a more fleshed-out film, it might have been transcendent.

  • With It Felt Like Love (2013) and now this second feature, writer-director Eliza Hittman comes across as a milder, less provocative version of Larry Clark (Kids, Bully). Like Clark, she explores the sexuality of adolescent and young adult characters in a manner that feels more closely related to still photography than narrative cinema; unlike Clark, she's too timid to confront her prurient interests head-on.

  • While Beach Rats lacks the austere beauty Sean Porter brought to the earlier film and shirks from depicting the most devastating consequences of its climax (one which recalls Ira Sachs’s underrated The Delta), stars Harris Dickinson and Madeleine Weinstein hold their own in Hittman’s brave drama.

  • Much like Hittman's superb debut feature — the exquisite and assured It Felt Like Love — Beach Rats homes in with diaristic intimacy on adolescence in flux, cleaving so closely to its teenage subject that we seem to share his emotional space.

  • Though Hittman's obsessions were unusually refined from the start, Beach Rats opens up to a bigger and more textured vision of adolescent sexuality. . . . Hittman doesn't handle the plotting quite as adroitly — the climax is confusing when it means to be ambiguous — but Beach Rats thrives so much on observation that any turn of the narrative was bound to feel contrived. What's special about the film is how much we come to know Frankie, perhaps more than he knows himself.

  • It's the follow-up to Hittman’s 2013 It Felt Like Love, a study in (premature) female sexual awakening in the director’s native country, the tidewater precincts of ungentrified Brooklyn, and like that film, practices a curious, caressing cinematographic style which renders the environment as a sensorial midway. (The use of boardwalk fireworks cleaves close to cliché, but the poetic possibilities of vaping have never been explored quite so well as they are here.)

  • Hittman has crafted an even bolder tale [than It Felt Like Love], narrating another coming of age story, from the point of view of a teenage boy,

  • Hélène Louvart’s ravishing 16mm photography never oversells the dead-end grit and chintz of the Gerritsen Beach ’hood, while Hittman intimates something of a mundane borough variation on Beau travail’s (1999) ritualized male deportment (these bros are no legionnaires) and redirected gaze. If Frankie is haunted by his own desire (and damned in part by his cherubic looks), Hittman locates his conflict in stark portraiture.

  • As the film wears on, and Frankie’s desperation to collapse his divided worlds into one becomes more acute, Dickinson’s almost ethereal difference—those “sad blue eyes”—becomes intrinsic to our understanding of the character, and heartbreaking. . . . Hittman is rapidly becoming a crucial American portraitist of the fragility of youth.

  • With just two features to date, Eliza Hittman has emerged as the finest chronicler of sexual awakening in deepest Brooklyn. . . . Shot on 16mm, this richly textured film explores libidinal turmoil with intelligence and empathy.

  • 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. . . . All Frankie wants is not to explode. Hittman’s imagery of the fireworks in the sky may echo that of Brokeback Mountain, but she transforms them from something hopeful to an omen, and she suggests no easy ending.

  • Dickinson is superb at tracing that veiled anguish, and Hittman--who wrote and directed the 2013 film It Felt Like Love--is a discreet and sympathetic guide to his fractured world. Shot by Hélène Louvart, Beach Rats is also gorgeous to look at. When Frankie and his pals drop by a vaping bar for a fleeting escape from reality, the smoke they exhale fans out around them in fat, lush plumes. It's sensual and evocative--a phantom of the earthier sexuality Frankie can't bring himself to express.

  • Shot on 16mm by French cinematographer Hélène Louvart, the film immerses you in an almost totally sensorial experience: smells, sounds, colors, the look of skin in sunlight and darkness, etc. Hittman's devotion to the male bodies onscreen is obsessive. Most good filmmakers, and most good artists, are obsessives. It goes with the territory. Hittman's obsession creates a potent blend of eroticism, pent-up feelings and good old-fashioned appreciation of beauty.

  • The film isn’t a thesis. But it does have ideas about sexuality and, ultimately, the thin line between danger and desire. That, I think, is what sets Hittman apart. The movie ends on a dark note, with a stunning act involving Frankie’s friends and one of his hookups—I won’t spoil it here. For some, it’ll be a mood-killer, and maybe even a dishonest departure from who Frankie is. For me, it played like a logical, if unforeseeable endpoint to what was lingering all along.

  • What love there is in Beach Rats belongs to the camera. Rarely has the life of a bro been painted with such tenderness. The images hum with desire and, like desire, they shift uneasily between dreaminess and menace. Ocean waves sometimes soothe and beckon; sometimes they crash with rage. The garish lights of Coney Island glow with frantic possibility; but the screams of thrill riders press on Frankie, as if the inner racket of his own agony has been made external.

  • One unfortunate trope of independent filmmaking is the near-silence of working-class characters, as if a relative lack of formal education deprived a person of ideas, emotions, experiences, and even language itself. A new movie that ignores that narrow-minded and prejudicial convention is “Logan Lucky”; another, Eliza Hittman’s second feature, “Beach Rats,” confronts it brilliantly, making talk and its absence among rough-and-tumble South Brooklyn teens a painful core of the film.

  • Hittman’s film, like Call Me By Your Name, and two other queer films of note, God’s Own Country (Francis Lee, 2017) and BPM (Robin Campillo, 2017), has a fiercely intimate, visceral style. . . . Hittman renders the sex – on the beach, in bushes, in seedy motels – with a palpable sense of danger for Frankie alongside the thrill of carnal discovery.

  • The most powerful aspect of Beach Rats is that it is a succinct statement on how toxically masculine and homophobic environments suffocate everybody in them. It gets across the subtle range of ways in which a young gay man can feel that suffocation, from anger to ennui, from humiliation to despair.

  • Sublimated grief sharpens an already troublesome sexual appetite in this atmospheric sophomore feature, and only drugged oblivion offers respite from doubt and angst. Though it can be a challenge to sustain sympathy for protagonist Frankie, a Brooklyn teenager whose private crisis over his sexuality causes him to treat his sister, mother, girlfriend and secret male lovers with escalating cruelty, British actor Harris Dickinson brings an extraordinary depth to his portrayal.

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