Like many of you, when I heard the title, I naturally assumed the movie was about this guy:
His name is Herbie but he literally answers to Handsome Devil, a name he lives and breathes every single day.
It’s quite effortless, and quite evident in his swagger. But anyway,contractually I have to eventually boomerang this runaway movie review and get back to the topic at hand: handsome devils who are not my verygoodboy Herbie.
Enter: Ned (Fionn O’Shea). He’s a teenager at boarding school, a constant target of bullies because he’s gay. And then the worst thing happens: the new kid Conor (Nicholas Galitzine), star rugby player, rooms with him. Which means all the jocks (aka bullies) now have an open invitation to hang out in his bedroom, and Ned no longer has a single safe sanctuary on the entire campus. Nor does he own enough boxy furniture to build an adequate barricade around his bed, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.
As you might guess, the proximity does eventually break down their defenses (literal and figurative), and Ned and Conor start to bond. They’re not so different after all! With the encouragement of the new English teacher (Andrew Scott), who challenges students to find their own voices, the two boys find common ground in music.
A simple message, but one we apparently still need to hear. People fear what they don’t know, but all it takes is one friendship outside your normal social circle to expand your horizons and overcome some of the invisible barriers between us. The differences between skin colour. sexual orientation, gender, etc, are superficial at best. Friendships, relationships, even just basic respect – these are based on our shared values and interests.
School is not always a safe space for queer kids (or different kids, or kids), and we’ve been telling them ‘it gets better’ for a long, long time. Which is true: it does get better. But it’s nice every once in a while to hear a story where better starts happening NOW. Queer cinema can often be a bit of a tragedy fest, and while it’s important to remember those experiences as well, it’s really nice to celebrate the victories. O’Shea and Galitzine have a wonderful, subtle chemistry, and give their characters an authenticity I know a lot of us will relate to.