Review: Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy
8 10

BEAUTIFUL BOY was previously reviewed as part of our TIFF 2018 coverage. 

PLOT: A grieving father (Steve Carell) tries to help his beloved son (Timothée Chalamet) recover from a crippling crystal meth addiction.

REVIEW: BEAUTIFUL BOY may go down as the definitive film about how drug addiction affects the addict’s family. This is a unique perspective, as typically it’s the addict who gets the focus, while here, in the fact-based account, it’s mainly on Steve Carell’s David Sheff, a celebrated writer who turned his journey into a best-selling memoir, “Beautiful Boy.”


What the movie gets right is that it illustrates just how devastating such a hardcore addiction can be on the family that’s still devoted to the junkie who, in many ways, has become a walking shell of the person they used to be. Carell gives a strong performance as the initially easygoing dad, who deludes himself into thinking that somehow he’ll be able to cure his son, taking us through his journey of rage, disappointment and eventually acceptance.

However, I imagine Timothée Chalamet is the one that’s going to walk away with the lion’s share of the critical adoration. While his Nic (who also wrote his own memoir — “Tweak”) is secondary in terms of focus, episodes of the film do follow him around as he sinks into addiction, with them admirably never trying to neatly explain the why of his situation, as there really is none that can be articulated.

The thing that director/co-writer Felix Van Groeningen really needs to be celebrated for is the bravery of allowing Nic to be more often than not unlikable. The fact is, drugs turn people into assholes and Nic’s not the charismatic drug addict Hollywood too often emphasizes. There’s nothing cool about his addiction and at his worst he’s not some charismatic sexy addict — he’s simply a mess. Chalamet is ideally cast in a role not too far removed from CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, as sober he’s shown to be charming and attractive, if a tad pretentious, just like Elio. It’s when he goes to pieces though that Chalamet’s performance reveals his range and this will no doubt propel him even further up the A-list.

Additionally, there are some good supporting parts, with Maura Tierney as standout as Nic’s supportive step-mother, while Amy Ryan is occasionally heartbreaking as his often absent mom who rises to the occasion when he starts to hit bottom. It’s also fun to see “The Wire’s” Andre Royo as an AA sponsor not unlike Bubbles when we last saw him (he’s the end result of the direction we all hoped Bubbles was going in).

To be sure, BEAUTIFUL BOY is given a Hollywood pedigree, with a sterling score filled with expensive library tracks from David Bowie and Nirvana. Also, if you read Nic’s own account, he sunk a lot deeper than even Van Groeningen seems prepared to depict but perhaps showing everything is unnecessary, as in the end it’s Carell as David’s story. It’s mature in that it shows there are really no cure-all’s for addiction and that even in the best scenarios some damage cannot be undone. However, it’s also strongly empathetic towards a plague that, as constant headlines remind us daily, is just getting worse and worse. It’s a timely film and one that I’m disappointed is being saddled with an R-rating by the MPAA as it would be useful movie for teens to see.

Source: JoBlo.com



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