When the top athlete and the resident loner on campus have to share a bedroom at an Irish boarding school an unlikely friendship begins to develop. This doesn’t go unnoticed though, with fellow classmates and even teachers getting involved. ‘Handsome Devil’ tells the story of this friendship and it’s the second feature film from writer & director John Butler.
The cast is lead by relative newcomers Fionn O’Shea & Nicholas Galitz who play the two main characters. Both perform well but O’Shea really stands out. He portrays his character with confidence and has ounces of charisma which should benefit his future career. The film has a range of other performers including more seasoned Irish actors such as Andrew Scott & Ardal O’Hanlon. Whilst all of the cast do a good job with their roles I thought that on occasion some of the character writing was a little too exaggerated. Most specifically in the finale of the picture. One sequence in particular just seemed a little too extreme in terms of character actions. I understand why this was in place, the director wanted to make a point. However it’s made at the expense of some credibility maybe. Although this is a bit of a nit-pick as it doesn’t really affect the overall film.
I really enjoyed the light-hearted tone of the film, despite the often deep subject matter. Much of this came as a result of O’Shea’s performance but also from the writing, style & editing of the film. ‘Handsome Devil’ has a strong message at its core, one that can be applied to many situations not being limited to the example it chooses to use here. As a result of all of these positives the film flies by with fantastic pace. In certain respects ‘Handsome Devil’ could be compared to Best Picture Oscar winner ‘Moonlight’. Whilst tonally & stylistically very different films, thematically they have more in common. ‘Moonlight’ was received with much praise and admiration but there were those that found it a little hard to connect with. ‘Handsome Devil’ could act as a good alternative for that audience.
Hopefully ‘Handsome Devil’ will find many audiences though as it’s highly enjoyable throughout. The narrative is filled with many aspects which should appeal to a variety of viewers. The charming lead along with the rest of the performers fulfill their roles nicely creating an entertaining story. All tied together by a central message that’s always worth hearing ‘Handsome Devil’ certainly puts John Butler on the movie map!
Rating – 8/10
Question: What is your favourite Andrew Scott performance?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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