Handsome Devil

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 5 Comments

Ned, an artistically inclined misfit, is so miserable at his conservative Irish boarding school that he longs to be expelled. His situation does not improve when he meets his soft-spoken roommate, a rugby-playing transfer student named Conor. But adolescent preconceptions about jocks and geeks are overcome, and the two form an unlikely friendship challenged by the school’s homophobic atmosphere.

Handsome Devil transcends its well-worn classroom drama routine once the characters’ sexual identities become a talking point instead of a schoolyard taunt. The film’s earnest message of acceptance is encumbered by stylistic choices, like a disruptive voice-over and clumsy split-screen montages contrasting the boys’ vastly different social experiences. The story flirts with daddy and betrayal issues but then fails to explore them fully.

John Butler, the director, who also wrote the script, fashions this uncaring environment in the tradition of “If …” (1969) and “Dead Poets Society”(1989), which also lends its kindly professor archetype, here played by Andrew Scott (“Sherlock”), who intervenes in his students’ lives. Scott’s performance brings much-needed sympathy and direction to the story; he’s kind of an emotional foil to the wild-eyed but meek Mr. O’Shea and too-stoic Mr. Galitzine. As in many a high school movie, it’s the seasoned teacher who brings the best out of his pupils, and here Scott draws the hidden potential not only from his students but also from the film.

Submitted by Bill

Comments 5

  1. Conor is the devil. He’s the gay rugby player. I’ve seen the film. He’s gorgeous.

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