“Beautiful Boy” Movie Review

Story posted December 5, 2018 in Arts & Entertainment by Lilly Adams.

David Sheff’s disturbing but superbly written memoir on his son, Nic’s, battle with drug addiction, and his son’s own memoir about the same, were adapted into a beautifully haunting film sharing the title “Beautiful Boy.” The film features an all-star cast, including Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, Maura Tierney and Amy Ryan.

The film begins after Nic Sheff’s high school graduation, with the start of Nic’s drug addiction and follows the harrowing and exhausting years to follow, showing their straining relationship, and the battle they both faced with Nic’s addiction. With the film being told both from the perspective of David and Nic throughout, and while the memoirs are both paired in the film, it focuses heavily on David Sheff’s almost obsession to help Nic, to bring back the son he once knew and the troubles and obstacles anyone would face with such a parental nightmare.

Hollywood has a tendency to romanticize and almost beautify things like this. Throughout the film there were more than the usual “big” moments. Moments where the music crescendos, the actors give the most dramatic monologues, and the lighting is beautiful. This usually happens at the end of the movie, (“When Harry Met Sally”, “Casablanca”, “127 Hours”, etc.). There were multiple moments where David Sheff would run to find Nic, accompanied with emotional music and dramatic lighting, they would hold each other in the rain, and for 20-30 minutes, everything was right with the world. It almost seemed like those 20-30 minutes, or the brief moments where Nic wasn’t struggling, were not as important or impactful. Rather than diving into the emotion that accompanies an addiction throughout its entirety, it seemed the film only skimmed the surface until it needed yet another scene where Carell and Chalamet found each other in the rain once again.

With these flaws, the film suffers, yet makes its resurgence with its creative and unique editing styles, stunning cinematography and the performances of Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet. The cinematography showcased the California landscapes in a dreamy haze and everything in between as a beautiful haven with the editing adding unique touches to the film’s overall emotional experience.

However, Carell and Chalamet stole any chance of spotlight they could get from the films natural beauty, and both channeled a humane and realistic characterization that audience members haven’t seen from either of them. They were playing characters, but it felt that they kept in the back of their minds that, while this is a real story for two men, in particular, David and Nic Sheff, this is a terrifyingly real situation for millions of people in America.

Yes, they were playing David and Nic Sheff, but they simultaneously were playing the fathers who lost their sons to drug addictions, and the sons who found themselves on the same paths. Within “Beautiful Boy,” there is a slight imbalance of authenticity and dramatization, but the performances from the cast and style of the film itself certainly save it from falling off the edge.

Rating: 3/5 stars



Lilly Adams is a sophomore majoring in film/video studies. To contact her, email lillyadams11@gmail.com.