Irish film “Handsome Devil” at the Garden State Film Festival



John Butler’s “Handsome Devil” takes place in an Irish boarding school with a passion for rugby, highlighting friendships between teenagers. It will be screened this March 24 at the Garden State Film Festival.

The Garden State Film Festival has been a safe landing place for Irish films for several years. Its founder, Diane Raver, has always had a soft spot for everything Irish.

“The Garden State Film Festival,” Raver told IrishCentral, “is proud to showcase the best of independent films from around the world. “Handsome Devil” is an absolutely breathtaking film about Ireland, rugby culture and redemption. That’s all we have founded this festival to present to our audience.

Handsome Devil Trailer

John Butler’s new film Handsome Devil takes a look at Irish rugby schools and young male friendships. It should be a hit at the Garden State Film Festival this month! Learn more here –

Posted by on Friday March 23, 2018

“Of course, the Jersey Shore is affectionately known as the ‘Irish Riviera’ due to the large Irish population, but more importantly the Irish Film Board is one of the best films in the world. This ensures that filmmakers can produce wonderful films like “Handsome Devil”. It is our greatest honor and privilege to do so.

“Handsome Devil” was written and directed by John Butler and filmed in Dublin. It takes place in a high school which is a madhouse for rugby. It focuses on two protagonists, Ned, an openly gay nerd who doesn’t care about rugby, and his new roommate, Conor, a star rugby player and a recent transfer who promises to bring rugby glory to school. . Unlike Ned, Conor is still in the closet, but despite their social differences, a close friendship develops, then is destroyed and ultimately redeemed.

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John Butler, writer and director of “Handsome Devil”.

“Handsome Devil,” John Butler told IrishCentral, “is basically my response to the John Hughes movies that I grew up loving, ‘Dead Poets Society’ and ‘Election’, all of those high school movies.

“The idea is that children are emotionally more open and accepting when they are young, but then they are infused with cynicism by their surroundings. This movie, unlike ‘Dead Poets Society’ where adults are these pillars of wisdom, I wanted there to be weakness in adults and strength in young people.

“Plus, it’s partly autobiographical as far as the characters are concerned, not so much the events that take place. I’m gay and really into sports just like I was when I was a kid. It was difficult to reconcile these two parts of myself. So, the inspiration for the character of Conor came from there.

“And I’m also a very pretentious music fan, so that’s where the inspiration for Ned came from. It was pretty much both sides of me and I did that as a way to recognize myself and bring those two sides together. “

Andrew Scott in

Andrew Scott in “Handsome Devil”.

Butler got three fantastic and responsive performances from Fionn O’Shea (as Ned), Nicholas Galitzine (as Conor) and Andrew Scott as English teacher, Mr. Sherry.

“I had a lot of people in my mind for the parts when they were written,” said Butler, “like the way Andrew Scott’s character was written with him in mind. Then, as far as Nick is concerned. and Fionn they had never met before but got along really well. We did a lot of upstream work that got them bonded. It was a great experience with the intention of making one. friends film and respect the idea of ​​male friendship.

“I’ve been lucky with the small parts, because it’s actually asking friends to do a day’s work here and there. I looked for great actors to complete the cast, which I think is very important in a movie. If you see some interesting people in all of these little parts, that makes the movie complete. I think you also need to pick the people most likely to deliver that performance to you, people that you can work with in tandem rather than forcing a performance on them. Working with guys like Andrew Scott, Peter McDonald, and Mo Dunford, they’re all great actors who buy into what you’re trying to do, add to it, then improve it.

With the exception of Andrew Scott, who rose to prominence in the United States playing Moriarty in the British series “Sherlock” on BBC-TV, most of the actors are unknown to American audiences. Americans are just beginning to discover how deep, rich and vast there is acting skills in Ireland.

Irish favorites Ardal O'Hanlon (far left) and Amy Huberman (far right) in

Irish favorites Ardal O’Hanlon (far left) and Amy Huberman (far right) in “Handsome Devil”.

When asked if there would be other Liam Neesons and Saoirse Ronans coming out of Ireland soon to be internationally acclaimed, Butler didn’t hesitate: “Absolutely! There is a certain confidence in Irish cinema that exists now, and Ireland has a lot of very talented actors, and I think we’re going to start to see more and more of them on the international stage!

While there isn’t the stigma of making a movie about homosexuality in Ireland like maybe a generation ago, I wondered if Butler had hesitated to make a movie that has a central theme on homosexuality?

“I think it was really important to tell this kind of story, to portray the experiences that I was seeing growing up. I grew up in a strictly binary world where masculine traits were those represented in sports. For me, growing up, it seemed like it was impossible to be both, ”he said.

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Fionn O'Shea in

Fionn O’Shea in “Handsome Devil”.

“This film was born from that memory, and I think it has something to say in 2017, because obviously, as we all know, there are so few players ‘out’ in the sport. Currently, there are no “out” players at the peak of their career in football or leading rugby union, and men’s team sports seem to suffer particularly from this lack of representation.

“We made a lot of progress with marriage equality in Ireland a few years ago, but the rigidity of this stuff, that choice is made when the kids are in school and that ‘it’s better’ is too late. . It should be addressed when the children are in school.

“If you accept this idea of ​​your orientation as an identity, then your identity is formed so early in your life. To have an openly gay sports player role model as a youngster would have been huge for me. I saw how unnecessary these binary definitions are and just felt I had to push this idea forward and consider why we are still in this position in sports.

So how was the film received in Ireland? “I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it now,” Butler said. “I was really nervous about showing the film in Ireland. I still live here so it was inevitable to be nervous, but I think the response was amazing and the audience really loved the film.

With the exception of a mention of the Guard and a few shaken “eejits” this movie could have taken place anywhere and IrishCentral wondered if that was intentional on Butler’s part?

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Rugby team

The rugby team in “Handsome Devil”.

“In ‘Handsome Devil’,” he said, “we tell a school story that is not necessarily an exploration of what it is to be Irish as much as it is an exploration of what it is. that it is to be young. Irish cinema is evolving into a place where our confidence as storytellers transcends the Irish and the Irish experience. These films don’t just speak Irish. I think we only make films for the world, and I think that’s the big change that’s happened over the last five or six years in our Irish film community.

In 2017, the Garden State Film Festival received an international award from UK-based TMT News for “Best East Coast Film Festival”. The GSFF was born in 2002 after a chance meeting at a grocery store in Sea Girt, New Jersey, between film industry veteran Diane Raver and famous Hollywood actor Robert Pastorelli.

Thanks to their close ties to Hollywood, Pastorelli and Raver were able to organize a global event in the state of New Jersey. It was created in 2003 and was immediately considered a huge success. Since then, industry figures such as Glenn Close, Frank Vincent, Batman producer Michael Uslan, Austin Pendleton, Kurtwood Smith, James Gandolfini, Budd Schulberg, Clarence Clemons, Bruce Springsteen, Lainie Kazan, Diane Ladd, Laura Dern , Bebe Neuwirth, Armand Asante, Sally Struthers and Ed Asner and others provided support.

“Handsome Devil” will screen as part of the 16th Garden State Film Festival when it returns to Asbury Park March 22-25 at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel Kingsley Room on Saturday March 24 at 6:15 pm. For more information: Email: [email protected]; Telephone: 877-908-7050; Website:; #GSFF.

Dermot McEvoy is the author of “The 13th Apostle: A Novel of Michael Collins and the Irish Uprising” and “Our Lady of Greenwich Village”, both now available in paperback, Kindle and Audio from Skyhorse Publishing. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Follow the 13th Apostle on Facebook at

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