In Eliza Hittman’s BEACH RATS, Frankie is a strapping, emotionally detached 19-year-old. When he’s not playing handball or cruising Coney Island for chicks and kicks with his crew, he’s in his mother’s basement, trawling the web for hookups with older men. Committed to little except the drift of a summer’s day, he tells more than one trick, “I don’t know what I like.”
Like a fevered dream by Samuel Delany come to cinematic life, Hittman’s new film—a follow-up to her directorial debut It Felt Like Love—continues her investigation into the social and sexual self-representation of outer-borough youth in New York City.* Harris Dickinson—London-born and -trained—gives a breakout performance as Brooklyn boy Frankie.
“During his audition, I asked Harris to take off his shirt. I was taken aback by [the perfection of] his body. It sounds weird to say this, but I thought his body might be a drawback for the film. I envisioned the character being more normal. Our French DP [Hélène Louvart] said, ‘This body is no good.’ [laughs] I asked Harris why he worked out so much. He said, ‘Well, you know, I was a heavy kid.’ Then I knew he could be Frankie, who also has a lot of armor around him.” — Eliza Hittman, during the post-Outfest screening Q & A for BEACH RATS, July 9, 2017.
ELIZA HITTMAN Q & A with SEAN BAKER
Friday, August 25, at 7:30 pm.
6360 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.
ELIZA HITTMAN Q & A with BARRY JENKINS
Saturday, August 26, at 7:15 pm.
143 East Houston Street, New York City.
ELIZA HITTMAN Q & A
Sunday, August 27, at 4:30 pm.
Francesca Beale Theater, Lincoln Center
144 West 65th Street, New York City.
*See Samuel R. Delany, “In the Valley of the Nest of Spiders,” Black Clock 7 (2007): 116–134.
From top: Harris Dickinson in Beach Rats, ; far right; middle, on a date with Madeline Weinstein (left); left with anonymous trick; film poster; upper right; videotaping himself in front of basement mirror. Images courtesy the filmmaker and Neon.