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U.S. Dramatic; 97 minutes.
Writer-director Eliza Hittman's "Beach Rats" starts off as an interesting character study of a young Brooklyn tough grappling with his sexuality but the movie turns out to be going nowhere slowly.
Frankie (Harris Dickinson) spends his days hanging out with his pals, filling the dull hot hours of a Brooklyn summer. At night, he sits in his parents' basement, surfing a gay men's chat website. He sometimes will hook up with the men he meets there, though he won't admit, even to himself, that he's gay.
Frankie's family situation is tough, with his father dying of cancer and his mother (Kate Hodge) worried about what Frankie is up to at night. Even when Frankie starts dating a girl, Simone (Madeline Weinstein), Mom worries that his buddies' influence is bad for him.
Hittman ("It Felt Like Love," SFF '13) captures the sweaty summer rhythms of Brooklyn, and the boredom of the disaffected youth who populate its sidewalks, boardwalks and vape bars. She also pours much care into creating the character of Frankie, who tries to deal with his sexual confusion by compartmentalizing his life, with a horrific outcome.
Alas, that outcome is telegraphed early in "Beach Rats," and the narrative lumbers slowly toward it with the inevitability of a boulder on a hillside, but not the shattering impact.
– Sean P. Means
"Beach Rats" screens again at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, at the following times and venues:
• Friday, Jan. 27, 9 p.m., Broadway Centre Cinema 6, Salt Lake City.
• Saturday, Jan. 28, 11:30 a.m., Egyptian Theatre, Park City.