There’s a wall in their school where people write anonymous confessions and scribble nonsense and leave doodles. The administration have tried to paint over it a few times but it always gets covered again, so instead they just tell everyone to keep it civil and PG.
One day Mike Stamford finds on the wall, tucked away between all the chaotic graffiti, a very intriguing message:
I’m gay and hopelessly in love with the rugby captain
The words are written so small it’s almost illegible, but that doesn’t stop Mike (and the rest of the rugby lads) from making it their mission in life to find the boy who’s in love with their beloved (and recently out as bisexual) Captain John Watson.
They take a picture of the message, enhance it, and start passing out fliers and searching for the secret admirer like it’s their job. By the time John finds out about it, the school is covered in the fliers and there’s nothing he can do to stop them.
John really wishes they’d asked his opinion before they started this ridiculous search. He knows they meant well, but John’s heart is already taken. He’s been lovesick over his shy lab partner Sherlock Holmes for ages.
“You spend your whole lives being someone else, who’s gonna be you?”
Handsome Devil is the film I wish had been played in my school assembly.
It’s tender and sincere in its message: being yourself is something to be embraced and celebrated. It captures the frightening suffocating atmosphere of some schools, and the challenge that comes with breaking down boundaries. Here the fact that people don’t fit into boxes is an uncomfortable truth to some- even something as simple as a rugby player liking music is seen as impossible.
Despite tackling some heavy subject matter of homophobia and bullying, Handsome Devil remains uplifting. The whole film has a charming quirky feel as main character Ned (Finn O’Shea) narrates his mishaps and adventures. Nicholas Galitzine plays rugby lad Conor, and beautifully expresses both his insecurities and growing confidence throughout the film. The two have brilliant chemistry and masterfully portray their blossoming friendship and the shy beginnings of a teen romance.
Andrew Scott is a wonder as encouraging English teacher Dan Sherry. Whether it’s jokingly egging the boys on in their ambitions, or giving some heartfelt advice ( “It gets better”), he is the teacher we all probably wished for.
Handsome Devil is a beautifully important film- particularly for young LGBT pupils. It acknowledges the painful isolation you can experience just by being ‘different’ but ultimately is hopeful: being yourself can be a blessing, and make you the happiest you ever will be.
John Butler, thank you for writing this wee gem of a film. <3