Beach Rats: Not Quite a Coming-Out Story

Frankie (Harris Dickinson) watches fireworks in Eliza Hittman's BEACH RATS, courtesy of NEON.

Beach Rats won’t be a film that appeals to the masses but Eliza Hittman delivers a quality film nevertheless.

Written and directed by Eliza Hittman, the film stars Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, and Kate Hodge.

Set in Brooklyn, Frankie (Dickinson) is struggling with who he is as his father is dying of cancer.  He searches the internet to hookup with older men but he never really comes out as gay in the film.  He chats with older men and then he starts to go as far as meeting with them on a nearby beach.  All the while, Frankie does so as he meets Simone (Weinstein).

Frankie’s relationship with Simone (Weinstein) throughout the film comes in waves.  She’s much different than than the rest of the people he hangs out with.  She may only be 19 but she has a job and is responsible, which is more than what can be said of Frankie or his friends.  While she may be able to empathize with what Frankie is dealing with, her forgiveness can only go so far.

“Simone is more aspirational than the men in film; she has a sense of purpose,” Hittman says.  “She might want to make it work with Frankie, but in the end she’s capable of letting it go.”

Beach Rats isn’t necessarily a coming-out movie in as much as it’s an evocative character study.  It’s about a young man who doesn’t really know what he wants to do with his life outside of getting high.  Frankie makes bad decisions and doesn’t want to face the consequences.  He’s got a good thing going with Simone, only he’s just too foolish to realize it until it’s too late.  When his friends realize something is going on with Frankie, he finally tells them about what he’s been doing on the computer and he stresses to them that he does it just to score some weed.

Simone (Madeline Weinstein) in Eliza Hittman’s BEACH RATS, courtesy of NEON

Just as Dickinson delivers a breakthrough performance, Weinstein also delivers a breakout performance as Simone and I was left wanting to see more of her performance and looking forward to seeing what happens in her future–which includes roles in Kappa Force, a webseries, and Netflix comedy Alex Strangelove.  The Northwestern graduate makes her feature debut in the film.

“Maddie is a smart, sparky young actress,” Hittman says of casting Weinstein. “When I cast, I think of things like, ‘Does this person feel familiar to me? Does she feel like somebody that I know?’ And Maddie has that quality. She’s a real person on screen with an inner world and a singular beauty.”

Beach Rats made its world debut at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and previously played in Chicago during the 2017 Chicago Critics Film Festival.  Neon launched the film last week on August 25, 2017, in select theaters before expanding into other locations this week.  In Chicago, Beach Rats can be seen at Arclight Chicago and Landmark Century Centre Cinemas starting on September 1, 2017.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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