Two boys at boarding school form a close bond in this likeable, good-hearted Irish coming-of-age story
Irish teens working out their social anxiety via the medium of pop music? Sounds awfully familiar – but mercifully, the similarities to ‘Sing Street’ here are only skin deep. ‘Handsome Devil’ takes place in a contemporary boarding school, where ginger dweeb Ned (Fionn O’Shea) feels out of place because he likes Suede and hates rugby. But two fresh arrivals threaten to turn his world upside down: no-bullshit English teacher Mr Sherry (Andrew Scott on fierce form) and new roommate Conor (Nicholas Galitzine), whose expertise on the rugby pitch masks an inquisitive, thoughtful soul.
‘Handsome Devil’ hits all the earnest coming-of-age-at-boarding-school beats we’ve seen in the likes of ‘Dead Poet’s Society’, from inspirational educators to rousing ‘be yourself’ speeches. The twist here is that two of the main characters are gay, and the third is decidedly curious. The performances are strong – Scott’s wry, sly turn is a constant joy – and it’s a pleasure to see a teen tale that prizes friendship and self-awareness over romantic prowess. It’s all a bit heavy-handed at times, but this is a sweet story honestly told.