Beautiful Boy is a dark and emotional story showing a close bond between father and son that is slowly torn apart by drugs. The film is based on the two memoirs, ‘Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction’ by David Sheff and ‘Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines’ by Nic Sheff.
The film starts off with audience meeting Steve Carell’s character, David Sheff who plays the upset and confused father questioning a professor on the side effects that meth can do to the human body. A short time after we rewind back a year where the story starts showing the father and son bond between David and his son Nic who is played by Timothée Chalamet.
Nic is a young teenager who has grown up with two younger siblings, good grades and has the most loving and caring family. Even though we don’t see where Nic first experiments with drugs, we get the rough idea he started around 16 with pain killers, cocaine, weed and other drugs ‘til he tries meth and becomes addicted. David is shocked and upset after discovering his son’s addiction and we see the lengths a caring father will go to help his son. David encourages Nic to enter rehab where he is left in the hands of the staff but soon checks himself out to only relapse.
With many flashback scenes occurring, it’s almost confusing to what time frame you’re watching. We see the upbringing of Nic and his tight relationship he shares with his father making the heartbreak even more painful to watch as Nic runs from his family and battles his demons. Unsure on how to handle the situation, David makes contact with his ex-wife Vicki played by Amy Ryan to work together in locating their son to know he’s still alive. Time passes as we watch Nic struggle and tell his family he wants to get better, but soon these words become repetitive and David must ask himself if has he done all that he can for his son?
This film shares a huge awareness of the effects that drugs can have on the human body. We watch how a loving family was so unaware and scared of what was going through their son’s head. This would’ve been a tough role for Chalamet to play as it can never be easy to put yourself in the shoes of a drug addict and make the audience believe it. Chalamet was incredible and made me feel the pain Nic and his family went through.
I went into this film knowing how serious the story was, given a biographical drama, but was slightly concerned with Carell being cast as the father. We are so used to seeing Carell cast as the similar funnyman role, but Carell blew my mind with how well he can step out of the comedy genre and adapt to the dramatic and emotionally serious role. This is something I want to see him do more of.
Although it’s quite dark and scary at times, Beautiful Boy is an eye-opener regarding the side effects and pain that drugs can cause to both the user and loved ones surrounding them. The movie felt long at times with all the back and forth flashbacks and had an odd selection of music choices, especially in one scene where David is going through Nic’s sketchbook which almost felt like you were watching a horror film due to the music. The film was still very enjoyable to watch and having me close to tears, Carell and Chalamet do an amazing job together in Beautiful Boy and it is a film that I would happily recommend.