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Laramie Movie Scope: Beach Rats

A disturbing drama of self destructive behavior

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 15, 2017 – This is a disturbing drama about a young man in search of his own identity at great risk to himself and others. It is an alarming portrait of a lost generation, morally rudderless, possibly destructive, seeking dangerous drugs and engaging in dangerous sexual liaisons.

Frankie (played by Harris Dickinson) is a teenager somewhere in that zone between high school and manhood who spends his time high on drugs and hanging out with his friends on Coney Island beaches. In secret, he cruises the internet looking for gay sex, but cannot admit, even to himself, let alone his family or friends, to being gay.

One would think that Frankie would be careful about sexually transmitted diseases, like AIDS, when having anonymous gay sex, but he doesn't seem to worry about it. He is a lot more worried about what his friends think about his sexual preferences.

Frankie's mother, Donna (Kate Hodge of “Rapid Fire”) is worried about Frankie, and with good reason. Frankie is bothered by his younger sister's (Nicole Flyus) budding sexuality and her relationship with her boyfriend. As the story goes on, Frankie finds it harder to afford the drugs he wants and finds it harder to keep his personal secrets under wraps.

Donna knows something is wrong with Frankie, but she cannot get him to talk about it. As Frankie and his friends get more desperate for drugs, he makes a fateful decision to engage in some illegal activity to get them. In the end, he stands by as an innocent man is hurt, possibly even killed, as a result of his own decisions.

There is a strong parallel in this story with the story of others in America's criminal element, and that is the absence of a father figure. The story opens with Frankie's father desperately ill in bed, in the final stages of cancer. Frankie's father dies during the course of the film, and there is a funeral scene. Frankie is asked to speak about his father at the funeral, but refuses. Frankie seems to have no adult male role model, no mentor, in his life.

Frankie seems, at the end to be on the edge of ruin, and perhaps he has already ruined his own life, and others in the process. Maybe he still has time to turn his life around. At heart, he seems like a decent fellow, but he is on the verge of becoming a criminal. His fate is up in the air at the end. That is what makes this such a disturbing film. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2017 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]