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A bright coming-of-age tale with irresistible charm!
Hailing from Ireland, Handsome Devil is a bright coming-of-age tale with an irresistible charm. The film, funded by the Irish Film Board, had its big release in Ireland back in April, garnering plenty of critical acclaim and international awards. Now, it's made its way to Netflix! And I'm here to tell you that it's certainly worth checking out.
Meet Ned (Finn O'Shea), a scrawny loner who attends a testosterone-pumped, all-boys boarding school that revolves around rugby. So of course he ends up rooming with the team's rough-housing star Conor (Nicholas Galitzine). The two don't exactly hit it off. That is, until their brash and dramatic English teacher (played by Andrew Scott, who's great here) opens up each of their perspectives.
Director John Butler's film dives into some interesting dynamics between all of the characters, tossing the ball around between themes of sexual identity, toxic masculinity, and the struggles of being yourself in the face of judgment and bigotry. Ned's essay-like voiceover narration gives the story that personal, introspective touch, while the spunky editing–slow motion moments, freeze frames, split transitions–all lend the film a fresh-faced vibe and freewheeling spirit.
And just when you think things might be getting a little too light and breezy, a few significant conflicts and somber moments arise, giving the narrative some major emotional heft. And while we've seen many iterations of its coming-of-age genre elements in the past, there's enough of a twist that not only keeps things engaging, but also gives the film a quiet sense of importance and power. Throughout the semester, Ned often talks about those significant turning points in your life that will always stick with you. Handsome Devil does the same.