Beach Rats (2017)
Frankie doesn’t really know what he likes. In this strange microcosm of flat characters and endless questions, we’re not really sure what Frankie likes either.
Synopsis: Frankie has a lot going on in the background: his father is dying of cancer, he has no job or plans for his life, and he’s trying to figure himself out. Frankie attempts a relationship with a woman while at the same time hooking up with guys online. He copes by using drugs, and his friends are people he claims aren’t.
I feel like this is a coming of age film, but it’s only a part of one. It’s like if you took a movie about someone coming out with figuring themselves out, coming out to friends and family, then maybe moving forward in their life, this film would be before all that. It’s like a prelude to a coming out film.
Beach Rats is well done in many ways. The cinematography is artistic, the acting is well done, and there are so many bits and pieces of the script that when watched carefully we see more than what is said. That said, it isn’t a casual watch. There are a lot of cold moments, stoic stares, and camera pans over various body parts.
It’s also frustrating, although I feel the film is meant to evoke this in us. Frankie doesn’t move much in that his character development is very slow. Instead of the typical film taking us through a story arc from point A to Z, this takes us from A to B. Frankie seems to have so much in his way that he is unable to take an experience and make it meaningful to himself (or the viewer).
Frankie lacks connections. We accept that because this film has a microscopic lens he has no job, school, or anyone but the three assholes he hangs out with. (maybe a sequel would resolve that). But he seems like someone who is so shut off from the world due to whatever it is, that he can’t connect with anyone from his friends to his own family.
One thing that found interesting is how completely closeted Frankie is from himself. Even in private he has difficulty with what he wants. Whether that stems from friends, family, church, I’m not sure as the film doesn’t go into that. But if he is gay it’s buried so deeply that he can’t seem to bear to deal with it – except to have odd hookups.
If you look at this film from the point of view that we’re about to see what it feels like to be mentally and emotionally stuck, then you might sense a better understanding of what is going on here. If you look at it from a realistic point of view, then you’ll be angry wondering why this jerk doesn’t have a job and is such an ass to people.