REVIEW: ‘Handsome Devil’ is a hidden LGBTIQ gem on Netflix

handsome devil netflix
Photo: Netflix

After reading film reviewer Peter Gray’s recent listing of queer picks to stream for Mardi Gras, I watched Handsome Devil, one the hidden gems he discovered on Netflix.

I recently bought a subscription to Netflix so I could watch Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, and since then, a number of foreign language TV serials.

Some are surprisingly okay. I was already familiar with many of the movies and shows on offer. Nevertheless, I hadn’t discovered Netflix’s smallish and very well hidden LGBTIQ offerings.

Handsome Devil on Netflix

Thanks to Peter’s review I found a lovely little, recent Irish movie: Handsome Devil. It isn’t without flaws. I’ll come to those.

But if it’s a stormy day and you’re half depressed anyway this can take you nearer the edge but rescue you from self-harm at the last minute.

You can Google the plot for yourself. I presume folk in the pay of the production company penned the online synopsis.

One of the two leads Nicholas Galitzine (the very athletic, Connor) is drop dead gorgeous; fabulous physique; peaches and Irish Cream complexion; chiselled features.

An acceptable range of facial expressions for someone at the beginning of his career. Fionn O’Shea plays opposite, as Ned, a nerdy introvert of undetermined sexuality in a rugby mad school. The supporting cast is fine.

My problem with the story is that it never reveals Ned’s sexuality.

Did other boys continually bully him for his presumed sexuality?

Or, was he hurt and demeaned by gay slurs and minor violence because he was a nerd?

Was Ned attracted to his roommate, Connor, because he felt a football playing, best friend would diminish his own isolation or because he realised Connor was a potentially available fellow “camper”?

Even after Ned accidently had evidence of Connor’s sexuality, he again failed to speak about either his discovery or to confess his own attraction. The climax has all players re-evaluating just who their “true selves” really are.

Evaluating my feelings before writing this critique I felt that the less cynical as well as younger gay men may see the movie as gay homage to The Karate Kid.

So, while my cynical outer gay rates Handsome Devil, a hmmm? My lovelorn inner gay predictably cheered, cried and almost clapped.

I’m giving it a 4/5 on the lavender scale of “must sees”. More shower scenes could have earned it another half point. That’s Netlix’s Handsome Devil.

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Bill Rutkin

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