Man, it feels great to be caught up on reviews. That aside, it sure looks like Carell’s days of playing stupid characters are long behind him. Thank God for that.
The story looks like it’s about a father trying to save his son from a powerful addiction to drugs.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Timothée Chalamet (LADY BIRD , and upcoming films LITTLE WOMEN  and THE KING ) and Steve Carell (LAST FLAG FLYING , CAFE SOCIETY , THE BIG SHORT , DESPICABLE ME  and 2 , and upcoming films WELCOME TO MARWEN  and VICE ).
In support, we have Maura Tierney (INSOMNIA , LIAR LIAR , and the upcoming THE TORTURE REPORT ), Amy Ryan (MONSTER TRUCKS , THE INFILTRATOR , GOOSEBUMPS , and upcoming films LATE NIGHT  and STRANGE BUT TRUE ), Jack Dylan Grazer (IT , and upcoming films SHAZAM!  and IT: CHAPTER TWO ), Amy Forsyth (HELL FEST ), and Kaitlyn Dever (DETROIT , and upcoming films THE FRONT RUNNER  and BOOKSMART )
Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing, we have Felix Van Groeningen, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Groeningen’s partner-in-pen is Luke Davies, known for LION (2016), and the upcoming ANGEL OF MINE (2019). This movie has no score, so there is no credited composer. The cinematographer is Ruben Impens, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and upcoming films DIRTY GOD (2019) and MUSTANG (2019). The editor is Nico Leunen, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Finally, one of the producers is Brad Pitt, known for producing BRAD’S STATUS (2017), MOONLIGHT (2016), and THE BIG SHORT (2015).
Overall, I want this to be one of my favorite movies of the year. I love Carell when he does drama and Chalemet is certainly a daring and committed actor, even if I don’t always like the movies themselves, so I think this has some serious potential.
This is my honest opinion of: BEAUTIFUL BOY
The story follows eighteen year old Nic and his father David Sheff (Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell respectively). Nic is a meth addict who is constantly in and out of rehab and how David struggles to find some way to help him.
Damn it… I really wanted to love this movie and I really don’t. No, it’s not a bad movie, not by a long shot, but there are so many elements about the way this story is handled that I really didn’t agree with.
First thing’s first. Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet are both fantastic in this movie. I dare say that this is Carell’s career best as far as his dramatic roles are concerned. Chalamet continues to impress with being a daring young actor and loses himself into every performance that he gives. One thing that should be universal of anyone talking about this film is the great performances across the board. I wouldn’t even be surprised if one or both of these actors got a nomination at the Oscars.
However, my praising ends there.
Let’s just dive right into my problems with this flick. Nic’s addiction makes absolutely no sense. The movie opens on him going to rehab for his drug abuse, which has been a thing for two years and we see no reason for it. For all intents and purposes, we see a father who loves his son, a mother who loves her son, and a step-mother who loves her step-son. He grew up a happy kid. There’s nothing in the flashbacks that we get of Nic growing up to indicate that he’s struggling with any kind of depression. Unless this movie is saying that a few dead white guys who wrote some depressing poetry, or metal music, or pot was the gateway drug being the reasons why he ended up getting into coke and meth, then I’m going to tell this movie that it can take those ideas and shove it right up its dick hole. I listen to metal music and I’ve read a few Edgar Allen Poe poems. I’m not on crystal meth. I know MANY people who are potheads. They’re not on crystal meth. So right there this movie is already confused on what exactly got Nic into this drug in the first place. It doesn’t say that he fell in with a bad crowd, or that it was peer pressure that got out of hand, nothing like that. He’s just addicted.
I just know that someone’s going to tell me, “It’s not about why he’s addicted, it’s about what addiction does and that struggle with it.” Okay, well, then how come the formula for this story is: addiction, rehab, relapse, addiction, rehab, relapse. We audiences have to connect to each moment. We already know that drug addiction is bad. I went to public school, bro, I listened to cops during the S.A.N.E. and S.T.A.R. programs. It won. I’m too scared to smoke, do drugs, or drink all that heavily. But that’s not the point. We audiences need to understand what causes that addiction in the first place. Even the simpler and easier explanations would be understandable, but this movie offers nothing. We can’t just be shown that addiction is powerful and drives the abuser to do terrible things to themselves, their friends, and their families. When they go to rehab, we need to see that struggle of getting clean. And if they relapse, we need to see that downward spiral too. At one point, Nic is sitting in his car on the side of the road, talking to his representative, and starts spouting that life sucks, even though we just had a ten to fifteen minute long montage of him being really happy with his family. I get that addiction and mental illness is a subtle thing that people keep hidden for insert reasons here, but there’s still reasons people feel that way. Something led up to why people are depressed and resort to these vices to deaden that pain. I, myself, suffer from my own depression and I drink and eat a lot. I’m not an alcoholic, nor am I morbidly obese, but I have high blood pressure that I barely care about and I have my reasons why. That’s the key question this movie barely tackles. Sure, the question is asked and what’s the most common answer? “I don’t know.” The only other answer given is, “Life sucks.” That’s not enough for audiences. Everyone knows why they do what they do. They’re just in denial about it because they’re too ashamed, afraid, or angry to admit it, either to others or themselves.
Honestly, from what we’re shown on screen, all I really want to do is grab Nic by the shoulders and tell him to stop being a pussy. No, I would not do that to the real Nic Sheff, as I have way too much respect for him, and I am perfectly aware of how douchie and damaging that can be to someone who’s sober. I’ve also never read either of his books, or his dad’s, so maybe the answers I’m looking for are in them. But I definitely want to say that to the movie’s Nic Sheff.
Even the way it ends is kind of frustrating. It’s basically showing Nic and David sitting in the yard of a rehab center and Nic breaks down crying with David rubbing his back in comforting way. Not that I disapprove of a happy ending, but how is this moment any different from the other moments that he went to rehab in tears with a comforting and supportive father? What was the actual moment in time when Nic realized that he wanted out of his habits, that fighting his addiction was what he wanted to do? This movie glosses over it completely and I feel like that’s a huge disservice to Nic Sheff himself.
Perhaps the biggest reason why this movie didn’t work for me is because it’s based on two memoirs, one from Nic and the other from David. While David’s point of view in the movie is treated brilliantly, it’s when it segues into Nic’s where the problems become apparent. Because the movie tries to film both sides of this horrible point in time in both of their lives, one side was given much more development, resulting in one holding back the other. Perhaps this movie could have benefited from a longer runtime than its current two hours, or controversially adapt their memoirs separately, I don’t know. All I know is that Nic’s perspective is the weaker element that drags down this movie.
If you’re anything like the audience I saw this with, and you cried, I won’t tell you you’re wrong. If you left this movie loving it, I won’t tell you you’re wrong. If you’re someone who got something profound from this and somehow changed your life, then please don’t let me take that away from you. I know I’m railing against the movie more than complimenting it, but I really do think it’s an objectively fine movie. I personally couldn’t connect with it, though. Despite the incredible performances, the emotional weight is absent. I wanted to regret not having tissue with me. I wanted this to be one of my favorite movies of the year. Instead, I’m rather underwhelmed and disappointed. As a recommendation… man, that’s hard. I would say if you really want to, you might get something out of it than I did. But I would say save it for a rental. It’s worth checking out, but maybe not while it’s in theaters.
My honest rating for BEAUTIFUL BOY: 3/5
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