New American Cinema | 2017 | 98 minutes
Stranger Says: Eliza Hittman captures the dead-end grit and chintz of South Brooklyn while channeling a more mundane borough variation on Beau Travail’s ritualized male deportment and redirected gaze. Notionally a film about boys idling a summer away—getting high, hooking up, and playing handball—the film is anything but idle in its restless portrayal of one particular beach rat’s personal crisis, a coming-of-consciousness tale in which the doe-faced but sinewy Frankie (star-in-the-making Harris Dickinson) can’t escape his increasing attraction to other men while maintaining a facade of heteronormativity. Bold work. (JAY KUEHNER)
SIFF Says:Frankie is currently in a strange stage of his life where everything around him seems to be teetering on the edge, threatening to shatter and change forever. He spends his days hanging out with his jock friends, with whom he’s not sure he has much in common anymore, working out, smoking pot, and impetuously hitting on girls he’s not even interested in. At home his mother roams the house like a ghost while his father lies bedridden as his cancer consumes him. It seems that the only place Frankie can be himself and shed these troubles is in Internet chatrooms, talking to other guys like him―other gay men. Frankie’s sexual coming of age is juxtaposed against the carefree and childish Coney Island boardwalk, where he hangs out with his brutish friends and ponders what may be the biggest turning point in his young adult life, and the one with the most at stake. Director Eliza Hittman showed off her skill as an unflinchingly honest storyteller in her first feature, It Felt Like Love (2013), and now comes through once again with a brooding, hypnotic study of masculinity and the journey toward adulthood.
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