It looks like 2017 will go down as a banner year for LGBT cinema: Call Me By Your Name, BPM and God’s Own Country have already won accolades, and now Beach Rats is making waves with cinephiles.
The film stars Harris Dickinson as Frankie, a teenager who spends his summer hanging out with his girlfriend in Coney Island, while secretly cruising for men online.
“I guess I think of it as being a film about a character who’s coming to consciousness about who he is. He never really comes out, and it’s about him sort of trying to understand his own desires in a world where there really is no coming out,” director Eliza Hittman tells Daily Beast.
“There’s leaving, and there’s finding a way to live an authentic life elsewhere, but he hasn’t reached that point yet. So it’s about, in a way, coming to understand himself and his desires.”
Playing Frankie required Dickinson to be naked a lot, but the 20-year-old actor says he was “happy to be part of something that did normalize male nudity,”
“I was talking to someone the other day who asked about it, and I said to them, ‘Have you seen how much female nudity there is throughout the history of film and TV?’ So yeah, I was comfortable with it, and I’m quite comfortable with my sexuality and my body.”
Dickinson says his modesty came a distant second to telling this timely story.
“It doesn’t glorify the coming-out process—it actually presents it from a negative perspective,” he tells Out. “But I hope those watching it can find a sense of freedom in themselves. No good ever comes of suppressing your true feelings, no matter who’s around you, or where you’re from.”
Below, Frankie and his latest hookup engage in pillow talk in their hotel room.
Beach Rats hits theaters August 25.