Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Handsome Devil: Movie Review


   


A well-told entertaining and inspiring coming-of-age story for our times.
Handsome Devil is a great film because it effortlessly combines characters both relatable and vital to the well-being of society, important themes of acceptance and self-confidence, and grandiose statements on the nature of growing-up, and put them all in an entertaining story. It brings to mind similar films that have come before it, notably Dead Poets Society and School Ties, but still draws a favourable comparison. This is a film for now, for this generation of school kids, and is good enough to make a difference. 2016

Directed by: John Butler

Screenplay by: John Butler

Starring: Fionn O'Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, and Andrew Scott

The filmmakers most certainly used Dead Poets Society as inspiration, as part of the story is centered around a young teacher, a teacher who has experienced some of the bullying the central characters are subject to, and he’s going to use his education, and his authority as an English teacher, to inspire his students and help give them a voice. That teacher is played by Andrew Scott, and he lends the film the perfect amount of emotional depth.

There are two central characters: Ned (Fionn O’Shea) is the typical awkward, bullied, anti-athletics, self-deprecating loner. He will represent a lot of viewers – but he doesn’t have to, there’s enough to this film that the audience can connect to it through Ned, through his teacher Dan Sherry, or his roommate Conor, or just through the universal themes. Conor (Nicholas Galitzine) represents an interesting dichotomy to Ned. He’s the new kid, both shy and confrontational, and would normally be a prime candidate to be singled out for being different, but Ned already holds that distinction and Conor is an excellent rugby player, a welcome addition to a school that worships the sport but doesn’t win very often.

Images courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures.
Ned is bullied and ridiculed for being gay. Gay is a common insult at this school, and I would like to think it’s set during a past time in history, but this culture still exists and Handsome Devil does an excellent job fighting it. It handles the line between comedy and drama well, and in addition it still tells an interesting story. The main story is the budding friendship between Ned and Conor, different but alike in many ways. The dramatic undertone to the whole story keeps it very interesting as there are opportunities for both tragedy and redemption.

Handsome Devil also manages to the keep the story light. The extremely homophobic rugby coach still has humourous reactions, Ned’s awkwardness and self-deprecation is funny, and Andrew Scott delivers his lines with both humour and heart. Handsome Devil succeeds because it’s entertaining and inspiring, it’s relatable and honest. It’s a story that’s easy to watch, and you’ll be glad you did.