BEACH RATS is a Raw Youthful Gay Crossroad too Close to Home

This year’s Mardi Gras Film Festival is well and truly under way and tickets are selling quick due to the incredible line-up. BEACH RATS is one I failed to post prior to the screenings due to my Japan trip – apologies again. You can actually buy this one from eBay on DVD, it is some incredible eye candy but quite a heavy film.

If you are in Sydney (or Canberra) dear peeps, I urge you to check out the Mardi Gras Film Festival Website and grab yourself some tickets, the festival runs from February 17th to March 1st so plenty of movies to still catch. Sadly BEACH RATS has already screened. It is rated R18+ and runs for 98mins. For post Mardi Gras screening opportunities I would hit up the peeps at Peccadillo Pics or search for it on eBay.


Beach Rats Harris Dickinson and his Crew image
Harris Dickinson and his Crew




On the outskirts of Brooklyn, Frankie, an aimless teenager, suffocates under the oppressive glare cast by his family and a toxic group of delinquent friends. Struggling with his own identity, Frankie begins to scour hookup sites for older men. When his chatting and webcamming intensify, he begins meeting men at a nearby cruising beach while simultaneously entering into a cautious relationship with a young woman. As Frankie struggles to reconcile his competing desires, his decisions leave him hurtling toward irreparable consequences.


Beach Rats Harris Dickinson image
Harris Dickinson



I just don’t get it – Rotten Tomatoes has the movie at 85% but it mostly pissed me off. I lived a somewhat similar life to Frankie and perhaps, for me, it was just too close to home. Critics appear to love the movie because of its brutal honesty and deep character study into a confused and developing character. Frankie is gay, Frankie is not out, Frankie’s friends are all tough-as-nuts thugs who like to drink, get up to mischief, drugs and mild-crime.

Frankie has a new girlfriend he obviously is not interested in but who also provides the perfect cover to his true desires. I did the same thing. He also treats his mother like shit thinking the world owes him everything. He is in a world of confusion and has found this online world where he can flirt with men and be his true self. But when these worlds collide he takes the wrong path and I disliked the character due to that.

Perhaps I always knew right from wrong when I was in Frankie’s predicament growing up, sure I didn’t always take the right path but Frankie seems driven towards being an asshole always on the wrong path. Frankie disappointed me and my ideal of what I wished the character would become. Harris Dickinson’s Frankie is someone I would be attracted to, but my personal desires for this character require him to have certain moral fibres and he fucked that up. But realistically these are my problems, not the fictional characters. Perhaps this speaks positiveness to the movie. I needed this character to redeem himself but he is human after all and they are genuinely good at disappointment. Am I becoming jaded?



Beach Rats Harris Dickinson and Madeline Weinstein image
Harris Dickinson and Madeline Weinstein



Thank the gods there are some. Harris Dickinson is superb in his role as Frankie, his delivery is honest and real, at times too real. He is constantly torn in his desires and endless fight to remain undiscovered, it is difficult presenting a character who is completely indecisive but not as insane as Hamlet, but somehow Dickinson and Director Eliza Hittman managed it.

Most of the better scenes are with Dickinson not opening his mouth with blank mind-turning stares and the marvellous moody, gritty and raw cinematography of Hélène Louvart. The style and storyline of BEACH RATS can easily be compared to the earlier works of Larry Clark and Gus Van Sant and this is one of its finer redeeming qualities. Shot on 16mm definitely gives that older, somewhat early 90s look of the same era as these master filmmakers.


Beach Rats Harris Dickinson image
Harris Dickinson



BEACH RATS doesn’t deliver much in terms of a satisfying conclusion. Instead, it becomes more difficult to view as it progresses. It’s modern art-house. Most critics embrace this realism, for some reason it rubbed me the wrong way. It is, however, a movie that has somewhat punishingly stayed with me since my viewing. I think, perhaps I am trying to more redeem my own parallel youthful decisions with Frankie’s than judging the movie on its own merit.





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.


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