Beautiful Boy – Film Review
Director: Felix van Groeningen
Writers: Luke Davies (screenplay by), Felix van Groeningen (screenplay by)
Stars: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney
This is the story of a father, David Sheff (Steve Carell), slowly watching his son Nicholas (Timothée Chalamet) losing control of his life to drug addiction. We meet David as he is wondering why his son has not come home last night. He’s nervous and worried, ringing anyone that might know his son’s whereabouts, including the local hospital. When Nick does eventually show up, he goes straight to bed and does not seem very apologetic for not getting in touch. The film carries on from this point with David wondering what is his correct course of action as he watches his son’s life dismantle before his eyes.
The film is based on the book of the same name, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff along with Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines written by Nic Sheff. The father David was a journalist, who worked for the The New York Times along with such magazines as Rolling Stone, Playboy, Wired and Fortune. He considered himself a pretty cool Dad, who was very much in tune with his son, until his son’s drug use became the defining point of their relationship.
The film is directed by Felix van Groeningen, who is a Belgian film director who previous worked on films such as Belgica (2016) and The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012). This film is a surprising step into the lime light, working with A-list Hollywood actors, and the producers have shown great faith in him, which he has largely repaid.
The film is in some ways relentless in its depiction of drug abuse. It is impossible not to feel sorry for David, as he tries to figure out what is the correct course of action to bring his son back on the straight and narrow. While the story has many twists and turns, there is nothing particularly new in its portrayal of drug abuse and those who become ensnared in its clutches. The main point of interest is the strong cast, with Carell and particularly Chalamet proving once more that he is a real talent. Chalamet has already received a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nomination for this work, and an Oscar nomination will surely follow. While the film is probably not high profile enough to earn him the overall prize, he is hugely impressive in the part.