Beautiful Boy captures the exhausting, cyclical nature of addiction and relapse. This movie is based on the real memoirs of father and son David and Nic Sheff, which follows Nic (Timothée Chalamet) as he struggles with his addiction to crystal meth. The film shows the relationship between the father and son through flashbacks, emphasizing the strength of their relationship and how it begins to crumble as the stressful, reoccurring heartbreak from addict behaviour becomes seemingly unstoppable.
Addiction is a sensitive subject to capture on screen, but the actors and director handled the subject with taste. Steve Carell demonstrated the breadth of his acting range, moving away from his typical roles in comedies to play Nic’s relentlessly loving father. Carell was also joined by his former costar from The Office, Amy Ryan, who plays the part of his ex-wife. Without a doubt, Chalamet deserves a round of applause (or perhaps an actual award) for his performance as Nic. It’s difficult to portray an addict, but Chalamet did an amazing job without ever feeling like he was overacting. Many actors have expressed the difficulty of portraying real people, but every actor, especially Chalamet, managed to do so in a convincing yet sensitive manner.
In regards to cinematography, there are many slow scenes that focus on specific characters, emphasizing their personal emotions. These scenes capture the internal struggles people face in different artistic ways: making conversations around them inaudible as they try to smile and laugh along with others, adding music that resembles a train increasing in speed, showing people lying alone on washroom floors.
Beautiful Boy received a high motion picture rating (rated R in the United States), but the film would be an excellent watch for mature teenagers as a means of starting discussions around drug addiction and the effect on friends and family. It could be used as an educational tool because it is based on a real story and isn’t overly graphic.
Beautiful Boy is an emotional and personal story handling a heavy topic, but the most beautiful aspect of this movie is the undercurrent of hope throughout adversity.