Handsome Devil (2016)

Handsome Devil
Director: John Butler
Writer: John Butler
Cast: Fionn O’Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, Andrew Scott, Ardal O’Hanlon, Amy Huberman,
Ruairi O’Connor, Dick O’Leary, Mark Doherty, Michael McElhatton
Seen on: 4.1.2018

Ned (Fionn O’Shea) and Conor (Nicholas Galitzine) attend the same boarding school and are forced to share a room. But other than that they really have nothing in common. Ned is a shy social outcast who can’t even be bothered to pretend to like rugby, while Conor is a star rugby player at their rugby-centered school. Against all odds, they start bonding though. But their friendship doesn’t go uncommented

Handsome Devil is a sweet film that takes on a different direction from what I thought it would. It’s not a fantastic film, but it is an all-around good watch.

[Slight SPOILERS follow]

I expected the film to go the full romance route with Ned and Conor falling in love and fighting the homomisic prejudices around them together while kissing. But that’s not the case: Ned does turn out to be gay, but Conor is not. That doesn’t mean, though, that they can’t stick together and face the oppressive culture at the boarding school as friends.

On the one hand, I regretted that lack of romance: we just don’t get that many nice queer love stories, so I always appreciate it when I do get to see them. On the other hand, I did like that it does show that straight boys and men can and should do their part when t comes to fighting homomisia and supporting gay boys and men. And that straight guys can and should be friends with gay guys and it doesn’t have to imply any romantic entanglement.

The film could have been more critical and at times it gets entangled in clichés and tropes a little too much, like with Andrew Scott’s English teacher who is the Dead Poets Society teacher everybody wishes they had had in school and unfortunately nobody ever did. It’s an intriguing type of character, but it felt too much like a copy.

But even when the film doesn’t quite get where it needed to be, it is engaging and emotional. It definitely has its heart in the right place and I certainly rooted for the boys as I enjoyed watching the film.

Summarizing: Cute and nice.

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