Welcome to Queer Fudanshi. Let’s talk. In this post, we’re going to talk about Handsome Devil.
Handsome Devil is an Irish film about a boy’s boarding school. Specifically, the story follows two roommates who seem like polar opposites but surprisingly have a lot in common.
Ned is very much alone on his campus. Most boys tease him for being gay and he doesn’t fit in with his hyper-testosteroned environment. Then, there’s new boy Conor who’s primed to become the star of the rugby team.
The two at first are at ends but after talking and through a kind teacher and talent show, they let their walls down. But, will the world (and their school) let them stay friends?
This is Handsome Devil.
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The Talk (Non-Spoilers):
This a fun film from start to finish.
Handsome Devil starts off being fairly basic for a gay teen film with a social outcast gay boy living in a place he can’t stand and getting bullied by jerks. But, then the story shifts into one about friendship in a way that kept me engaged.
In addition, while most of the characters are pretty basic in their characterizations (including one of the leads), there are two other characters who were interesting to me because they either have a lot of crap going on with them or because my perspective of them changed by the end of the film.
Handsome Devil is not a major awards contender (though it did win some awards anyway), but it is a fun and interesting film and its worth a watch. In fact, I feel like it’ll be worth a re-watch from me at some point in the future.
The Talk (Spoilers):
Fun And More
This was a really enjoyable movie from start to finish, but my perspective of it changed througout.
At the start of the film, I was really liking it but I felt like I’d seen it before. A gay kid who’s an outcast, a hyper-masculine environment, and a fun teacher who tries to bring a change. All of it is pretty gay film basic at this point.
But, a quarter or halfway in the film there’s the shift after finding out that Conor and Mr. Sherry are gay. (Btw, does anybody else think that Dan Sherry looks like Mark Ruffalo?). That changed the story because it stopped being this “outcast kid finds a friend and happiness” story to being a little more to me.
That said, the story continued to be fun and engaging throughout the entire film and I’m happy that it left me happy.
Not A Romance
I also love that this story is not about romance. It’s not about these two boys falling in love. It’s about them becoming and staying friends. I liked that.
Don’t get me wrong, I would have welcomed a love story between Conor and Ned, but I appreciate that Handsome Devil was just about their friendship. Let’s face it, not all gay guys are attracted to each other and even if they are sometimes they just want to stay friends. This is the first real story about gay friendship and I appreciate that.
While there’s nothing really to say about the students of the story (besides the two leads and saying the others were all over-testoteroned bullies), there are some things to talk about concerning the teachers.
First off, I like that at the start of the film it was noted that Walter Curly was a boy on the inside, because that helped me to understand that his character was constantly in flux. He didn’t care that Conor was missing besides the fact that the school’s game would be affected. He didn’t care that Ned was being bullied or that the boy in the trashcan was stuck.
Yet, Walter Curly did show some maturity in scenes like his reaction to Dan Sherry coming out to him (he was a little shocked but not offended). Plus, he stayed reasonable in the face of Pascal’s implying that Sherry was a pedophile. While his character seemed more of a caricature, he did have his moments of complexity.
Then, Pascal was the perfect villian who seemed like the cool older brother type of coach but then evolved throughout the film into this bully with anger issues.
Then, there was Dan Sherry. At first, he seemed like the typical Carpe Diem/Do Re Mi/Gokusen teacher who’s there to enlighten the students. But again, the middle of the movie shifted my perspective of him and showed that he wasn’t perfect.
When I saw him go down the train slightly buzzed and then failing to help Ned later, I thought back to my high school teachers and how my perfect perspective of them didn’t proove an inch to the truth of who they are. So, I’m happy his character was allowed to be complex.
Conor and Ned
Lastly, our two leads.
First, I don’t understand how no one wanted to be friends with Ned because he seems like a great guy. He’s the typical weirdly dressed (suit jacket with everything? Even under a shirt? Really?) and quirky personalized, outcast lead. But, he was still enjoyable. Maybe because he was so approachably basic.
That basicness didn’t stop from making me care for him and mourn with him as he went through his rough patches though.
As for Conor, he was the character with more going on with him. Its almost like this was more Conor’s story than Ned’s and Ned was just our window into it.
Conor had a lot to deal with concerning his alcoholic dad, hiding his sexuality, his friendship with Ned, his mentorship with Sherry, his stress from rugby, and so on. That made him more of an interesting character.
And again, I like that these two remained friends and not more. I like the idea of two gay teens/men being there to support each other. And I only wish I could have more time with them to see them do that.
Handsome Devil is a fun watch and I say you should check it out. While it does seem overly similar to a lot of other gay teen stories, there is enough there to make it unique on its own. On top of that, the two gay characters revealed halfway through the story helped to turn it into more about the complexities of coming out.
While lately I’ve been saying that some films I’ll never need to see again, I can honestly say I’ll probably watch this film again sometime in the future.
- The only cringeworthy scene was when all the players stood behind Conor and Ned in the locker room. That I could have done without.
- I honestly have no idea why he named his essay Handsome Devil.