Beautiful Boy is a heartbreakingly realistic look into addiction

Brendan Sheardy, Staff Writer

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     Beautiful Boy is based off of the true memoirs of David and Nic Sheff as the father and son both deal with Nic’s struggles with drug addiction. The film is written and directed by Felix Van Groeningen and stars Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, and Amy Ryan.

     This film is driven by it’s incredible performances. Steve Carell, mostly known for his character Michael Scott in “The Office”, has done some dramatic work before in Foxcatcher and The Big Short, but this is the best he’s ever been. Here, he plays David Sheff, the father of Nic Sheff, his drug-addicted son. Carell reveals a side to him we, as an audience, have never seen before. He lets out a lot of raw emotion and is able to make it seem real. I was convinced the whole movie that this is a father in pain, and someone who has to watch the person he loves almost destroy himself, and Carell did an incredible job doing it.

     Equally as incredible is the rising star, Timothee Chalamet as Nic Sheff. Hot off an oscar nomination for 2017’s Call Me By Your Name, Chalamet is looking directly at another one. He perfectly portrayed the everyday struggles, the mood swings, the outbursts, and the pain of being addicted to drugs. He also gave off a lot of raw emotion and sold the audience on his pain and struggles.

     Amy Ryan was also great, despite her role being small. We only get to see Ryan in a handful of scenes, but all of which were incredible. She too is playing a character who is undergoing a great deal of pain, having to watch her son deal with this disease, and she was incredible. I do wish she was used more, and is disappointing that we never got to see her reach her full potential as an actress in the film.

     The film is not perfect, though, there were many issues I had with the overall script. First, the film seems to be missing a first act. We are thrown directly into what feels like the middle of this father and son story with absolutely no build up. The film tries to make up for this with flashbacks, but these ultimately feel useless because none of them lead up to the son’s beginning struggles of addiction.

     The first half of the film also does a lot of meandering. The scenes don’t feel like they move the story along at all They just kind of start and finish with no transition between. It was choppy and slowed the pacing down a lot.

  This section of the film also feel detached from the characters. We get to see the family struggle, but it never digs deep into the characters and how they are really feeling in these situations.

     The second half, however, more than makes up for the rocky start. The film gets a sudden burst of life about midway through, and it was gut-punching from then on. As Nic’s addiction begins to get worse and worse, and everything the father, David, is doing to help isn’t working, the film’s tragic story really starts to take flight. There is a powerful phone call between David and Nic towards the end that hit me like a truck, and I believe it was the film’s best scene.

     I found the directing in this film to be rather bland. Nothing about Groeningen’s shot composition was particularly special, and the interior lighting was the same muted colors every single time. This comes down to a personal preference, but the film also looked too digital. The look of real film is far superior to digital, and this film made no effort to emulate the film look.

     No, Beautiful Boy was not the powerful and hard-hitting film I wanted it to be, but it is still worth seeing. This film will play big at the oscars for the acting categories, but I see it getting swept under for everything else. This film is playing at select theaters around the country.

     Rating: 7/10

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Beautiful Boy is a heartbreakingly realistic look into addiction