Saturday, October 27, 2018

Movie Review: "Beautiful Boy" (2018)

Director: Felix Van Groeningen
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 0 minutes

The story of the bond between a father and his meth-addicted son and the struggles they face on the road to recovery.

Beautiful Boy 2018 movie still Timothee Chalamet
"You don't know how good it gets when it gets good." (Image Source)
Parenting is hard. It is a process you have to learn as you go. That learning curve becomes a lot more difficult when you have a child who is a drug addict. "Beautiful Boy" is directed by Felix Van Groeningen, who is known for directing films like "The Broken Circle Breakdown" and "The Misfortunates." He also helped write the screenplay along with Luke Davies, and it is based on two books, the first being "Beautiful Boy" by David Sheff, and the second being "Tweak" by Nic Sheff. It tells the story of the previously mentioned David (Steve Carell) and Nic Sheff (Timothée Chalamet) and their bond as father and son. It focuses on how Nic's addiction to meth, alcohol, and other hard drugs impacted that bond and turned David's once loving son into a stranger he didn't recognize.
Beautiful Boy 2018 movie still Steve Carell
"Mourning the living is a hard way to live." (Image Source)
"Beautiful Boy" is a biographical tale that we are all too familiar with in life and in Hollywood. The struggle of substance abuse is a favorite topic of filmmakers and actors as there is a ton of built-in drama and opportunities for awards-reel performances. Being derived from two books about the same subject that are told from two different perspectives, the screenplay should make for a compelling story. Unfortunately, the script winds up feeling a bit uneven at times. The first portion of the film focuses primarily on the character of David as he struggles to come to terms with his son being an addict. It also delves into the research David does to try and save his son, as well as the preparation that comes from not knowing if or when Nic will live through the day, week, month, or year. David, his wife (Maura Tierney) and their two young children are affected by everything Nic does and doesn't do. The exploration of their trauma and mourning isn't nearly as compelling as what happens in the latter portion of "Beautiful Boy" when the focus shifts to Nic directly. We watch Nic grapple with being an addict. We see the consequences of what he does and see the toll it takes on him as he tries to stay clean time and time again. The first two acts drag a bit as we jump back and forth between the past and present day in a way that we feel could have been pieced together better. It's a little sloppily edited.

Steve Carrell does a fine job as David, but he doesn't offer an Oscar-worthy performance despite his best efforts. Some people will never see him as a "serious" actor given his history as a comedy-heavy performer, but he is getting better and that's what counts. On the other hand, Timothée Chalamet is fantastic as Nic. We could easily see some awards attention coming his way for his performance here. We feel a little sorry for people who don't think he's a good actor because he has shown more promise in just two short years than most young newcomers in Hollywood. Chalamet offers many moments of intense emotion that are sure to stir up your own thoughts and feelings, especially if you've ever had anyone in your life who has dealt with any type of addiction.
Beautiful Boy 2018 movie still Timothee Chalamet Steve Carell
"I thought we were closer than most fathers and sons." (Image Source)
In the end, "Beautiful Boy" may not be the Oscar-worthy piece of cinema many were predicting it would be, but that doesn't mean it's not worth watching. It is a good movie and will most likely make you have a good, cathartic cry. It has a lot to say about addiction, coping, and mourning the living, and Timothée Chalamet's performance makes the whole thing worthwhile.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.3/10
RT Rating: ~65%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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