Beautiful Boy is now showing on Amazon Prime.
It could be argued that 2019 is set to become the year of addiction drama. After all, several films are on the way, each aiming to explore the haunting isolation of alcoholism and drug addiction. However, all those to come may have a job matching the sheer emotional clout of Beautiful Boy due in small part to Timothée Chalamet’s riveting portrayal of teenage addiction.
Based on the real-life story of journalist David Sheff and his son Nic. Beautiful Boy combines both men’s memoirs, including David’s Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey. However, Director Felix Van Groeningen sometimes struggles to find the story arc needed to inform the drama fully. But, despite this, he does manage to elevate the film through exemplary performances and the realism of the struggle to overcome addiction.
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At times Beautiful Boy feels uncomfortable, especially when exploring its core subject matter. For example, while addiction knows no social-economic boundaries, treatment does. And in Nic’s case, his family’s wealth and support undoubtedly play to his long recovery. Of course, in reality, the privilege of money in recovery is something many people in America do not have. However, despite this uncomfortable problem, Beautiful Boy keeps its audience emotionally attached to the drama on-screen, and it’s here where the casting choices strike gold.
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Timothée Chalamet is once again a revelation on screen, proving his place as one of Hollywood’s most exciting young talents. Here his performance is full of raw emotion, anger and self-doubt, reflecting the complexity of addiction cycles. This screen steeling performance alongside Steve Carell provides Beautiful Boy with its hook, meaning and emotion.
While it may not be perfect in structure and narrative, Beautiful Boy never attempts to sugarcoat addiction and its devastating effect on family life, delivering a fierce, relentless and ultimately stark view of addiction.
Director: Felix van Groeningen