I attempted to see the Felix Van Groeningen directed Beautiful Boy last Friday when it was only playing in two theaters here in New York City. My stupidity in not reserving tickets ahead of time got the best of me and I discovered it was sold out after walking 15 minutes to The Angelika Film Center. Womp womp.
Given the critical acclaim I had heard about the film, I knew I didn’t want to wait that much longer to see it, so I finally scored a ticket, plopped by behind down and had my eyes glued for two hours while watching a cinematic masterpiece.
The movie is based off a real-life memoir from father and son David and Nic Sheff, respectively played by Oscar nominees Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet. It is my belief that both will score their second Academy award nominations for this, and possibly win given the raw & emotional portrayal each of them gives to their character throughout.
I am a huge Steve Carell fan, and it’s still hard for me to view him in dramatic roles given how he is primarily known for his comedic abilities in The Office, Anchorman and more. Timothee, however, is still a relative newcomer after experiencing a great deal of fame due to his 2017 movie drama Call Me by Your Name, which he starred alongside Armie Hammer. Both men come together beautifully in this movie as you see what it’s like dealing with drug abuse from the father and son angles in a no holds barred kind of way.
David is a twice-married writer who lives in San Francisco with his second wife Karen, played by Maura Tierney, Nic, and their two children. His first wife, Vicki (Amy Ryan), lives in Los Angeles and the two don’t seem to have that great of a relationship in the beginning of the movie.
His relationship with Nic plays out from childhood to him at the grips of his horrific drug abuse, where all parties become involved in some sort of way… even the two children. Nic’s attempts at hardcore drugs starts around the time he was supposed to go to college, which confuses David as he never really saw it coming. He eventually goes to a rehab center but runs into issues after David gets a call that he’s escaped.
Without giving too much away, the film basically becomes a cat and mouse game where Nic is the cat and David, Karen and Vicki become the mice in the situation. They are all dealing, individually and together, with how to handle Nic’s addiction to crystal meth as the movie goes on. There are times in the film where he’s doing well, has his head on straight, relies on his sponsor quite a bit, and then there are other times where he is at complete rock bottom and doesn’t know what to do.
There is no Hollywood ending to this and I’m leaving that open to interpretation. I’m glad that Felix adapted the screenplay from the memoir in a way that showed a realistic view on drug abuse and to not make it a sappy, pathetic ending like Silver Linings Playbook did a couple of years ago. All the emotions that each character exhibits in the film pretty much mirrors a ton of real-life experiences with drugs: anger, frustration, guilt, shame, etc.
I recommend that everyone sees this film as the subject matter of drug addiction is one that is still grossly underrepresented in the mainstream media and politics. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
This post was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.