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TIFF 2016 Review: Handsome Devil

Irish director/writer John Butler was last at TIFF in 2013 with his sleeper hit The Stag and now he makes his triumphant return with Handsome Devil. The semi-autobiographical coming of age story is at once sentimental, wryly observed, and endearing without ever sinking into saccharine territory.

The film follows 16 year old Ned (Fionn O’Shea), a musically inclined boarding school student who doesn’t quite fit in with his rugby obsessed classmates. When he’s forced to room with dashing sports star Conor (Nicholas Galitzine), his world is forever altered. Their budding bond and aspiring Simon and Garfunkel-like musical partnership causes friction amongst Conor’s teammates and forces the duo to bravely confront their inner demons.

Stars O’Shea and Galitzine both turn in nuanced yet naturalistic performances but it is Andrew Scott (Sherlock, Pride) and Moe Dunford (Vikings), playing the supportive and not so supportive teachers in the boys’ lives, respectively, who truly shine on screen.

The lively, well directed school comedy (a light hearted Dead Poets Society, if you will) was one of our charming surprises of the festival and a gem of a film.

[star v=4]

Leora Heilbronn

Leora Heilbronn is a Toronto based film aficionado who has a weakness for musicals and violent action flicks. She can often be spotted reading a wide range of literature or listening to show tunes.