Beautiful Boy – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

October 25, 2018 by Roz Tarszisz
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That this film is based on a true story inspired by two memoirs only serves to make it all the more compelling.

Director Felix van Groeningen (The Broken Circle Breakdown) has worked together with Australian scriptwriter Luke Davis (Candy, Lion) to give us a picture of what happens when a bright, talented teenager, destined for college, becomes addicted to ice.

David Sheff (Steve Carrell, Foxcatcher) is a successful journalist married to artist Karen (Maureen Tierney, The Affair). They have two young children and Nic, David’s son from a previous marriage, who lives with them.

Told mostly from David’s viewpoint, the flashbacks to younger versions of Nic show the loving bond the two have.  When David realises his son is an addict, he is shocked but determined to fix it.  But his ice addiction is not one which Nic wants to let go of as he doesn’t think he has a problem.

When David says at one point “this is not who we are” he is emphasising that this is not a dysfunctional family, existing on society’s fringes but a close and caring one. Nic also has a concerned mother in Vicki (Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone) but nothing makes him feel as alive as having a hit.

It’s all there, the rehabs, the failures, the effect the boy’s problems have on his younger siblings and loved stepmother.  But it’s the close relationship with his father that is the heart of the film as the young man descends willingly into the abyss of addiction. In a moment of painful clarity, he tells his father that ice helps him see the world in colour instead of black and white.

An eclectic soundtrack, which echoes the taste of the real-life protagonists, adds to the mood. Performances are all excellent. Carrell inhabits the role completely and the talented young Chalamet is mesmerising,

Although sometimes harrowing viewing, it gives an uncomfortable but ultimately uplifting, insight into something that is now part of our society.

3.5/5  Rated MA15+   Released October 25  112 mins 2018

Starring Steve Carrell, Timothee Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan

Directed by Felix van Groeningen

Written by Luke Davis (Candy, Lion), Felix van Groeningen

Based on Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff and Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff

 

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