A touching story about a son handling addiction and his overprotective and desperate father finding their way back to each other
By J. Richarz
This weekend the London Film Festival presented the UK premiere of “Beautiful Boy” directed by Felix Van Groeningen (“The Broken Circle Breakdown”). The movie is based on the bestselling memoirs by the journalist David Sheff and his oldest son, Nic (“13 Reasons Why”). Nic’s story about and his fight against addiction. It hits a true and touching note in a staid but authentic addiction memoir. In essence, “Beautiful Boy” tells the story of David Sheff’s anguished but impotent crusade to snatch his son from the jaws of a life-crushing drug dependence.
The trailer shows the son sitting on his bed telling his parents about his crystal meth addiction. It is full of throwbacks to his childhood and his great bond with his father. The drugs change Nic, played by Timothée Chalamet they make him lose himself and especially they make him lose hope. The dad, David, played by Steve Carell tries to hold on to old memories to find the son he had such big hopes for.
It is a heartbreaking and compelling movie whether or not it happens to speak to you personally, yet you can bet that a lot of people who have stood by and watched members of their families succumb to drug addiction are going to want to see it. The movie shows us how addiction influences those who are trying to save an addict from himself, it is entirely authentic. There’s no cut corners or fake sentimental beats, no fraudulent uplift factor.
The performances of Carell and Chalamet are both excellent. Chalament bring a something special to the role, the pain of his character can be seen in his eyes which makes his performance outstanding. As if he’s actually the kid that zones out, takes meth to make himself feel better and loses hope in everything around him. The focus on how the dad experiences his son’s drug addiction and the many moments he realizes that his condition is getting fatal are heartbreaking. The circle repeats itself and Nic is doing worse every time, everything seems to get more desperate. The difference to other movies that deal with drug addictions and usage is that it tells the story of a young man to drift away from people that care so much about him, that love him for everything he is and ever be. It is not about the highs and lows the drugs actually bring the user and his surroundings, it is about all the love there is behind the scenes of drug usage.
Nic’s parents got divorced when he was younger and he lives with his dad in the Bay Area while his mother, played by Amy Ryan lives in Los Angeles. There are parts in the movie that show devastating scenes, like David lashing out at Nic in a diner booth because he doesn’t understand what happened to his wonderful, little son. This is what probably every parent can relate to, at some point, if good or bad, kids have to find their own way to find themselves. The little, innocent kid they had hopes and dreams for changes and there is nothing the parents can really do. This is also something David has to realize in the film, he goes from over worrying about his kids future to worry if his kid is even going to have a future.
Films about drug addiction show mostly how the body reacts to the drug and that influences the users fight for soberness. In “Beautiful Boy,” meth is something that Nic does not want to give up, and as one knows nothing changes if the person doesn’t really want to. But at some point, Nic is dependent on staying clean in order to stay alive. David loves his son more than anything, and the film keeps flashing back to his memories of Nic when he was younger. It’s his way of asking: Where did I go wrong? The movie tells the story of David’s road to accepting that he didn’t do anything wrong; he didn’t cause any of this. It just happened. To love his son, he’s got to do something even more difficult than saving him. He has to let him go.
Find the trailer below: