Beautiful Boy - 2018
Director(s): Felix van Groeningen
Writer(s): Luke Davies & Felix van Groeningen (screenplay) / David and Nic Scheff (books)
Cinematography by: Ruben Impens
Editor(s): Nico Leunen
Cast: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Kaitlyn Dever and Amy Ryan
Unfortunately, this film is based on a true story pulled from a pair of best-selling memoirs. I say unfortunately because the main subject of this movie is drug addiction and how it not only destroys the user, it can also destroy the lives of the people around them, making it a hard and compelling watch. With great actors in front of the camera, Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, I was excited to see them flex their acting muscle and play off each other. Walking out of this movie I can say that both actors did not disappoint, even though the film ultimately fell a bit flat.
The story centers around David Sheff (Carell) a freelance writer trying to both understand what his son, Nic Sheff (Chalamet), is going through and save him from his crippling addiction to drugs. With this being an adaptation of two memoirs, there is a bit of a disjointed feeling in the tone and structure. The script does not efficiently set up the family dynamic or their history efficiently enough for us to fully connect with the characters inside this vicious cycle. While it does intertwine flashbacks to the good old times, they are not enough to break the monotony of the relapses Nic goes through. This is not the fault of the script as it is depicting the truth about addiction, and how an addict falls is a repetitive cycle of getting clean and falling back into old habits. It just becomes tiresome to watch Carell drive around in his car looking for Chalamet.
Quick note: even though I found it repetitive, the raw and unforgiving insight into addiction was truthful and respectful to the families that have dealt with loved ones with this disease.
Where this movie shines is in the acting department, as the entire cast came to play. Maura Tierney plays Karen, wife of David and stepmother of Nic; she has he tough role of supporting her husband and keeping her household a float as they have two kids to take care off. She is the anchor that keeps David sane. Amy Ryan plays Vicki, ex-wife of David and mother of Nic, in her limited role her pain and anguish of being a "part-time mom" (David won full custody) are portrayed perfectly. We see the weight and helplessness she carries around with her. Steve Carell as David is an emotional rollercoaster, as his love and pain quickly become anger and frustration since no matter what he does he can't seem to stop the path his son is on. While his scenes of anger will capture the audience, what impressed me the most was the scenes in where he tries to fight back the anger from bubbling up. However, this movie is merely a vehicle for Timothée Chalamet, to yell "I am the best actor of my generation.". The body language, the aversion of eye contact, the constant mood swings and the desperation for the next hit of euphoria from the drugs was present in every single scene he has in the movie. Chalamet embodied Nic and gave him depth and humanity. He is going to be in talks for Best Actor, and it is reasonably possible that he will win it.
Beautiful Boy is a well-directed bio-drama that sadly fall is a repetitive nature that undercuts the powerful and devastating portrayal of addiction. Elevated by excellent performances from the entire cast, it is worth a watch just for the performance of Chalamet. This movie is the crown jewel of a young and exciting career, and I look forward to what he will do next. Chalamet is why I love movies.
Beautiful Boy is currently playing in theaters. I would wait for it to hit Netflix.
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