It Felt Like Love, a young girl tests the waters of adult sexuality, offering her body up to the statuesque bros who live in her Eastern Seaboard beach town. She tries her hardest to mimic the women in pornos, the ones all the boys want, but ends up cold, alone and even more confused than she was before. Now, in Hittman’s follow-up, Beach Rats, the director turns her camera on these bros, peeling away layers of ingrained teen gender roles through the story of Frankie (Harris Dickinson), a sexually questioning guy who adopts the hyper-masculine attributes of his friends to assimilate. Hittman’s depictions of sexuality, emotional crisis and parent-teen relationships are rendered here without sentimentality — and with the burning urgency of a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse.
In Eliza Hittman’s debut feature,