Beach Rats is more than Moonlight set in Brooklyn

BEACH RATS (Eliza Hittman). 98 minutes. Opens Friday (September 22). See listing. Rating: NNNNA few years ago, Eliza Hittmans It.

BEACH RATS (Eliza Hittman). 98 minutes. Opens Friday (September 22). See listing. Rating: NNNN

A few years ago, Eliza Hittmans It Felt Like Love looked at the confused sexual awakening of a teenage girl. In her new film Beach Rats, the writer/director continues to investigate the tangles of desire and impulse that define teenage sexuality but in a very different manner.

Set over a suffocating Brooklyn summer, Beach Rats takes an evocative, charged look at a closeted 19-year-old adrift in his own life.

Frankie (Harris Dickinson) spends his afternoons vaping with his thug friends and his evenings hanging out at Coney Island. Its either that or stay at home and watch his father being eaten alive by cancer. And when no ones looking he goes online and arranges hookups with older men.

Working with cinematographer Helene Louvart who shot Agnes Vardas The Beaches Of Agnes and Wim Wenderss Pina, among others Hittman renders Frankies world with suffocating clarity. We can almost sense the heat and pressure bearing down on him at every turn.

And Dickinson, an English stage actor making his feature debut, is utterly riveting as a young man who knows who he is and what he wants, and cant let himself have it. (Hes supported very nicely by Madeline Weinstein and Kate Hodge, who are terrific the in the smallish roles of Frankies would-be girlfriend and his isolated mother.)

Comparisons to Moonlight are superficial but not entirely invalid Beach Rats is its own thing, telling a story that happens to have similar elements but stands apart. Its worth your time.

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