"Gay, Teenage Angst"
A Review of "Beach Rats" by Nathan H. Box
Director/Writer: Eliza Hittman, Starring: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge
Rating: 2 Stars, SKIP!
For my 6th film of the 43rd Annual Seattle International Film Festival, I hoped to visit familiar turf. "Beach Rats" is about a teenager named Frankie living in Brooklyn. Frankie is lost and confused. Throughout much of this film, he wanders like a rudderless ship. For someone his age, his challenges are enormous. From questioning his sexual identity, losing a father to cancer, friends who bring out the worst in him, a potential new girlfriend, and his secret life of meeting older men online, Frankie is on a path some may seem as leading to destruction. For those who are trying or have come out, this path is probably all too familiar.
Throughout this film, I wanted Frankie to be a character I could root for and support. In those unsafe moments when he is meeting older guys online, he reveals his true self. He isn't concerned with what his friends think of him or disappointing his mother. He is solely focused on the joy and pleasure of being your most authentic self. These moments are raw and real, but they are also innocent and freeing. For anyone who has traveled down this path, the journey will be a relatable one.
Unfortunately, in the time period allotted, Frankie's teenage angst is never really solved. You will find yourself hoping that he will kick open the closet door. We are given a few clues but nothing definitive. For the filmmakers, this may have been the point. We could have been left torn between worlds; one where Frankie is out and proud or one where he is closeted and not being true to himself. As an audience member, I wanted this problem solved, but sometimes life isn't that easy.
Be good to each other,