More often than not, when we leave a screening, I have a pretty clear idea of where my opinion is going to fall in regards to a film. Very rarely will I walk out of a film befuddled. “Beautiful Boy” proved to be the exception to that rule. Felix van Groeningen’s latest project provides audiences with an uncomfortable look into the nightmarish world of addiction. While most narratives which tackle this subject matter through the eyes of the addict, ” A Beautiful Boy” places the focus equally on the parents as well.
The film is based on the memoirs of David and Nic Sheff. Luke Davies skillfully crafted this narrative allowing there to be a balance between both David and Nic’s storyline. ” Beautiful Boy” is akin a journey into the far reaches of hell for both a child and his parent. Nic’s father is desperately looking for answers to a puzzle that is far too complicated. The guilt eats at him and causes him to lash out at his ex-wife and alienate his new one. Davies framed the storyline in such a way as to allow Nic (and the audience as well) to reflect on the events in his life which lead him to this moment where he’s lost control. Playing with the structure of his storyline allows the audience to become even more invested in a gut-wrenching tale.
Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, Maura Tierney, and Amy Ryan are equally stellar in the film. Carell and Ryan were the biggest highlights for me. Each actor put themselves through an emotional ringer to project the levels of authenticity this tale so desperately needed. What most surprised me was how Chalamet’s performance wasn’t on the same level as the previous two actors. That’s not to say the film wasn’t enjoyable. “Beautiful Boy” aims to deliver a powerful message and it succeeds on many levels.
Overall, the film is effective with its message and doesn’t cut corners when attempting to tell the truth about addiction. Carell gives the performance of his career which likely garner some serious award season buzz. More importantly, it will draw people to witness a parent’s worst nightmare become a reality. “Beautiful Boy” gets a B from me and should certainly be seen this weekend.