It could be argued that 2019 will be the year of the addiction drama. With a range of films on the way that explore the haunting isolation of both alcoholism and drug addiction. However, it is highly unlikely that any will match the sheer power of Beautiful Boy. Where the majority of the pure emotional thump comes from Timothée Chalamet’s ability to portray the absolute hell of personal addiction.
Based on the real-life story of journalist David Sheff and his son Nic. While combining the memoirs of both men with David’s Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey and Nic’s Growing Up on Methamphetamines. Director Felix Van Groeningen struggles to find the story arc needed to inform the drama fully. However, it does manage to ensure performances shine alongside a realism in the struggle to overcome the demons of addiction.
There are, however, also aspects of Beautiful Boy that occasionally feel uncomfortable when exploring its core subject matter. For example, the wealth and privilege of the Sheff family play to themes where addiction can be overcome with money. A privilege many people in America simply do not have. However, despite this Beautiful Boy manages to keep its audience emotionally attached to the drama on screen. And it’s here where it’s casting truly strikes gold.
Timothée Chalamet is once again a revelation on screen. Proving his place as one of the most exciting young talents in Hollywood. While giving a performance that is not only full of emotion. But also echos the loss, anger and complexity of addiction. His screen steeling performance working alongside an equally tender performance from Steve Carell.
It may not be perfect in construct, and it may sell a slightly uncomfortable view of privilege in recovery. But equally 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