Screening Room

This hyper-erotic gay drama is finally here for your home viewing pleasure

Eliza Hittman’s highly acclaimed film Beach Rats is out today for purchase on streaming sites like iTunes. A Daily Beast feature hailed the movie as “the rare gay drama, and maybe the next wave of queer storytelling, that makes you feel uncomfortable.” And who can resist that?

Set in Coney Island, the movie centers around Frankie (played by model-turned-actor Harris Dickinson), a closeted teen who compulsively cruises gay hookup sites. The performance, according to Daily Beast, was “one of the most grueling, sensual, and captivating star turns at Sundance. And certainly one of the most enticingly naked.”

Related: ‘Freak Show,’ ‘Beach Rats,’ and 10 other must-see features from the most incredible film festival season

In order to stoke more interest in the film, three clips were posted to YouTube, and they give us a better sense of what to expect from the story, which press materials describe thus:

 “An aimless teenager, suffocating under the oppressive glare cast by his family and a toxic group of delinquent friends, struggles 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.”


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  • WillParkinson

    Yeah, another kill the gays movie. Just what we need. How is this pushing the envelope? It’s not much different than any of the other crappy movies out there.

  • Mike

    I liked a lot of the movie (and it’s certainly the only gay movie I’ve seen in years that gave me a boner watching it). But [SPOILER ALERT] the plot doesn’t have a satisfactory ending. Near the end, Frankie gets in a car with a middle-aged gay man for a hookup, then arranges to have his friends come to where they are and rob the guy of his drugs. The friends go way overboard and the guy flees into the water to escape and we never see him again.

    And the next scene is Frankie next day going to the place where it happened and looking moody and that’s the end. This is NOT “another kill the gays movie.” Frankie didn’t want the guy killed and his friends weren’t trying to kill him because he was gay. They were just trying to rob him (and we actually never even find out whether he DID get killed). There just should have been more — I was sitting in the theater thinking the plot was finally getting interesting, and “The End” appears.

    • mz.sam

      With all the critical hype I sadly missed seeing it at the theater…Wrong! This is the best review ever and thank you, thank you for revealing the spoiler. I was expecting a esoteric, fill-in the plot points masterpiece of Moonlight. I guess it isn’t and therefore a good thing.

  • OzJosh

    How many times have we seen that old bit about the length of fingers indicating gay or straight? And the conversation about girls or gays making out isn’t fresh because it’s given to a female character. If the clips are any guide, this movie is a string of cliches.

  • bobbyjoe

    Saw “Beach Rats” recently at an LGBT film festival, and judging by audience reaction it might have been the most unpopular film at the festival. It’s not “hyper-erotic” it’s “hyper-boringly-pretentious.” And it’s a real throw back to some seriously tired “I’m so angsty about being in the closet” storylines that many other films at the fest have– finally and fortunately– deconstructed or moved past. Do yourself a favor and skip “Beach Rats;” there are a lot better gay films lout there this year: try “Tom of Finland,” “God’s Own Country,” “Saturday Church,” or if you get the chance, “Screwed,” a far less hyped film from Finland that’s everything “Beach Rats” should be but isn’t.

  • cvdixon29

    Does Netflix have it, or will it? I’ve read several responses and some are good and some are bad. I’d still love to see it.

  • Bob LaBlah

    There are only seven gay themed movies that I’ve seen over the years that are worth their weight in gold because they leave you actually caring about the story and its characters. Midnight Cowboy, A Clockwork Orange, Dog Day Afternoon, Cruising, Hairspray, Trick, The Broken Hearts Club and finally the remake of Hairspray in 2007. The latter, 2000’s The Broken Hearts Club, was the last gay-themed movie I saw that I can say was well made and thought out with the characters in mind. With the exception of 2007’s Hairspray it seems that since the year 2000 all other gay themed movies have had too many pieces missing in both story and character and seemed to smother the audience in pity for the characters situation in society instead of encouragement to go forward or show something worth living for after a tragedy. If I’m not mistake there have been no less than three stabs at a Stonewall movie (and out of love for Rupaul I won’t mention Star Booty).

    • JaredMacBride

      Hairspray, A Clockwork Orange and Midnight Cowboy are far from “gay themed” movies.

    • Bob LaBlah

      Not to me they weren’t.

    • Bob LaBlah

      God forbid how did I leave Moonlight off of that list of memorable gay movies?

  • JaredMacBride

    It’s a terrible movie that has no story and not a single character any sane person would want to be in a room with.

    Harris Dickinson is off the charts hot and he can act, but he is the only reason to try to sit through the nonsense.

  • JohnAustin

    I HATED this movie. Not worth watching at all. Go find another movie to watch. This one is a waste of time!

  • Jaxton

    I truly believe the media refers to these movies as “gay movies” in order to kill them at the box office. I truly do.

    I see this movie as an aspect of the male condition. Narrowing it down to a “gay movie” does a huge disservice to the movie and to those who would otherwise be interested in seeing it.

    Cut the “gay movie” crap.

  • QueerFilmCritic

    As someone who studies and reviews queer cinema this is a profound achievement in recent queer cinema. It is for you if you like to be challenged and enjoy character studies and looks into people’s lives. It is not for you if you enjoy happy endings or just want to get your rocks off looking at softcore porn.

  • Daniel-Reader

    A depressing gay/bi movie? How original… if it were 1950.

  • stevetalbert

    Not a gay movie. A confused teen movie. For a riveting confused gay and teen movie see Bully from 2001. Brad Refroe and Nick Stahl are great. Bijou Phillips and Rachel Minor are good also.

  • Jaxton

    Unless moies that address male homosexuality become more interesting, they will die at the box office.

    Unless movies that address male homosexuality stop being portrayed as “gay movies” by the media, their market value will be minimal.

  • Luvstoread

    So glad they have great gay story lines on YouTube And, there are so many great gay books too! Can’t depend on Hollyeood to satiate your desire for good gay films. Do enjoy foreign ones with sub tittles, bur the endings are usually very sad.

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