Beach Rats – the steamy new gay film from writer/director Eliza Hittman (It Felt Like Love) – is one of the first surprise gay hits to come out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Its first teaser trailer sets the tone for a dark and complicated drama that explores the secret, sexual world of young gay men.
With newcomer Harris Dickinson offering an emotionally charged and shocking star performance–quite often while naked–Beach Rats could be the catalyst for a new (and much needed) onset of American queer-wave filmmaking.
Set in gritty Coney Island, New York, the film focuses on Dickinson’s teenage character, Frankie, who compulsively cruises gay hookup sites looking for his next encounter. The Daily Beast calls it “the rare gay drama, and maybe the next wave of queer storytelling, that makes you feel uncomfortable.” It’s also got a fair amount of steamy sex scenes.
In the trailer, the dark overtones are instantly apparent as we watch Frankie endlessly posing in the mirror to capture that perfect selfie. It feels like a stark, foreboding look at the narcissistic culture we’ve come to live in.
Who said filmmaking was a dying art?