Already a success in its home country, Handsome Devil is the latest in a line of Irish films flying the flag abroad. John Butler’s partly autobiographical film about a young gay rugby player is about to find a new audience, having been selected for inclusion in the New Jersey festival.
The film will screen this weekend in what is affectionately known as the ‘Irish Riviera’, due to its huge Irish community. Festival director, Diane Raver, announced “Handsome Devil is an absolutely stunning film of Ireland, the rugby culture, and redemption. It is everything we founded this festival to present to our audience.”
Set in a rugby obsessed Dublin school, the film depicts the growing friendship between Ned (Fionn O’Shea), a music mad outsider unimpressed by the home teams’ antics on the pitch, and Conor (Nicholas Galitzine), their new star rugby player. Ned soon comes to realise that Conor is gay and being forced to conceal it in order to fit in.
Sherlock star, Andrew Scott, also stars as a closeted gay teacher, battling with his decision to keep his own identity a secret.
Butler, the writer and director, based the characters on his own experience growing up as a gay rugby player. In an interview with GCN last year, Butler said, “I am gay, and I am really into sport, and I had difficulty in reconciling those two aspects of myself growing up. I always seemed to be told that you have to make a decision or a choice about one or the other.”
The film was nominated for an Irish Film And Television Award and won the Dublin Film Critics Circle Award for best Irish feature.Regarding his goal for LGBT inclusion in his work, Butler said, “My obsession is with having LGBT characters in films and not being ghettoised. I’m aggressively determined to be a mainstream filmmaker, and I’m equally determined to have LGBT characters in those films. It’s not up for debate.”
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