Beautiful Boy is showing on Amazon Prime now. This article also appears in The Basketball Diaries – Spotlight Classic
2019 could well be the year of the addiction drama. After all, there are a range of films on the way that aim to explore the haunting isolation of both alcoholism and drug addiction. However, it is doubtful that any will match Beautiful Boy’s sheer power—the emotional thump of the movie Timothée Chalamet’s superb portrayal of the absolute hell of personal 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, at times Director Felix Van Groeningen 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.
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. The privilege of money in recovery something many people in America do not have. However, Beautiful Boy manages to keep its audience emotionally attached to the drama on screen. And it’s here where casting choices truly strike gold.
Timothée Chalamet is once again a revelation on screen, proving his place as one of Hollywood’s most exciting young talents. His performance full of raw emotion, anger and self-doubt, as he reflects the complexity of addiction cycles. His screen steeling performance alongside a superb Steve Carell providing Beautiful Boy with its hook, meaning and emotion.
While it may not be perfect in structure and narrative, Beautiful Boy never attempts to sugar coat addiction and its devastating effect on family life. Delivering a fierce, relentless and ultimately stark view of addiction.
Director: Felix van Groeningen