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Directed by John Butler
95 min | 2016 | Ireland | Not Rated
When Ned (Fionn O’Shea), an artistic outcast, and Conor (Nicholas Galitzine), a recently transferred all-star rugby player, are bunked together at their all-boys boarding school, friendship seems unlikely. A metaphorical (and literal) wall quickly divides the two halves of their room, and as Conor’s new friends teach him various ways to mock Ned’s effeminate tendencies and interests, Ned turns to songwriting to cope. With the help of a compassionate English teacher (played by Andrew Scott), a bond develops between the two new roommates, and as the final rugby match looms, Conor is forced to choose between defending his friend or representing a homophobic institution.
Handsome Devil subverts the clichés of high-school coming-of-age dramas with natural, heartfelt dialogue, quirky humor, and poignant observations on antigay inclinations in the sporting community. As the story intensifies to a climax, writer/director John Butler’s talent for structuring a charming, topical comedy drama shines, and Handsome Devil tackles heavy topics while maintaining a light, but impactful, tone. The film has enjoyed critical success at film festivals in its home country of Ireland and abroad and embodies important lessons for young people and adults alike about finding one’s own voice, standing up against injustice, and encouraging people to embrace what makes them uniquely different.
— Kyle Davis
Winner: Best Irish Feature–2017 Dublin International Film Festival; Official Selection: 2017 Seattle International Film Festival
Preceded by the short film
Queen’s Mile (10 min) directed by Martin Delane