Capsule reviews for Aug. 25

Beach Rats

Greater acceptance and tolerance might have rendered movies about “coming out” less necessary, but this gritty drama puts a fresh spin on familiar themes by chronicling Frankie (Harris Dickinson), a Brooklyn teenager with a troubled family life who patrols the beaches with his macho buddies by day and surreptitiously flirts with older men online by night. As he drops hints about his sexuality, he maintains a relationship with a local girl (Madeline Weinstein) who enjoys his sculpted physique. The audacious film conveys a raw authenticity for its characters and setting, while newcomer Dickinson finds depth and complexity in a protagonist whose sympathetic qualities are sometimes elusive. (Rated R, 95 minutes).



The concept outweighs the execution in this slick thriller told in real time — and in a string of long, continuous takes — in the titular Brooklyn neighborhood. It follows a young woman (Brittany Snow) who hops off the subway into the middle of a literal war zone of anarchy and rampant shootings. As she tries to figure out what’s going on, she finds an ally in a former soldier (Dave Bautista) who agrees to protect her. It’s an impressive technical achievement dragged down by a script that doesn’t achieve the intended emotional resonance, either for its characters or for its topical but heavy-handed political message. (Rated R, 94 minutes).



An even-handed plea for peace, this sincere and topical drama is about more than just a narrative gimmick. Contained entirely within the back of a police truck over one night in Egypt, shortly after a military coup overthrew the newly elected Muslim government, it brings together protesters on both sides of the conflict who must survive a night filled with tension both inside and outside their claustrophobic quarters. Although the setting obviously is intimate, the film manages broad-based insight into its true-life political volatility. And while there’s not much room for character development amid the chaos, the unsettling film is provocative without resorting to heavy-handed contrivances. (Not rated, 97 minutes).


England Is Mine

While fans of 1980s British pop star Morrissey might appreciate this biopic, it’s doubtful the singer himself would approve. This low-key character study — which chronicles his life prior to founding the alt-rock band The Smiths — tends to indulge in the sorts of clichés that its subject spent his career assailing. However, Jack Lowden (Dunkirk) offers a solid portrayal in the title role, as a precocious writer growing up in working-class Manchester battling inner demons and social awkwardness while dreaming of stardom. As it capably chronicles Morrissey’s artistic process and the influential cultural backdrop, the film shortchanges everyone on the music. The result feels out of tune. (Not rated, 94 minutes).



You don’t need to be a dance aficionado to appreciate the rhythms of this modest drama that follows a working-class Russian girl (Anastasia Shevtsova) who becomes a ballet prodigy, earning a spot in the prestigious Bolshoi. Then she has a change of heart, opting instead for a less lucrative but more creatively satisfying career in modern dance and choreography. It’s not difficult to figure out the narrative gist here, but that’s not the point. Based on a French graphic novel, the deliberately paced film finds its footing in the abundant dance sequences that encapsulate the artistic spirit driving the inner conflict of its protagonist. (Rated PG, 108 minutes).