(2018) (Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet) (R)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Drama: A father tries to help his drug-addicted son before it's too late.
- David Sheff (STEVE CARELL) writes freelance articles for magazines but his focus of recent has mostly turned to his son, Nic (TIMOTHEE CHALAMET). And that's because the older teenager is a drug addict, mainly addicted to crystal meth. With his ex-wife, Vicki (AMY RYAN), living far away and having little contact with their son, David leans on his second wife, Karen (MAURA TIERNEY) -- with whom he has two young kids, Jasper (CHRISTIAN CONVERY) and Daisy (OAKLEY BULL) -- for emotional support.
But even that doesn't help as heart-to-heart conversations and even having Nic go through rehab doesn't seem to do any good, what with him repeatedly returning to his use, including with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Lauren (KAITLYN DEVER). Realizing time might be running out for his son, David tries to do whatever he can to save him, even while that's putting a strain on his life and family at home.
- OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
- I'm always amazed at what external/outside factors many people worry about that they believe are going to kill them when, far more often than not, it's what they put in their own bodies that's probably going to lead to their early demise.
Yes, all sorts of things can call in a visit from the Grim Reaper, but heart disease is still the number one killer in the U.S. (mostly attributed to bad diets) while an alarming rise is coming from drug overdoses. According to government reports, more than 72,000 Americans died from taking too many illegal and pharmaceutical drugs in 2017 and that number has been steadily climbing for years.
And the problem is that while your favorite candy might be addictive, such drugs are far more effective in gaining near-complete control over their victims' physiological and psychological systems. Once they have their hook in you, it's incredibly hard to break free from them, which is an incredibly depressing reality.
Speaking of the latter, films about such matters usually can be described in the same or similar ways and that's clearly true for the latest such offering, "Beautiful Boy." It's the big-screen combo adaptation of David Sheff's 2008 memoir "Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction" and 2007's "Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines" by Nic Sheff.
It stars Steve Carell as David and Timothée Chalamet as Nic, a father-son duo who are being severely affected by the latter's drug addiction. Like any parent in such a situation, Carell's character wonders how and why this could happen to his son -- thinking they had a good parent-child relationship before this began -- and what he can do about it now.
The film -- directed by Felix van Groeningen from a script he co-wrote with Luke Davies -- details their ordeal over a bit more than a year's worth of time and how it affects David's second wife (Maura Tierney) and their two young kids (Christian Convery and Oakley Bull) as well as David's ex (Amy Ryan) who's been out of the picture for a while.
Rather than tell this tale in an A to Z fashion, van Groeningen has opted to jump around through time, not only in the parameters of the main story, but also various flashbacks to better moments in their lives. Occasionally, especially early on, that's a little bit confusing as we're not always sure what time frame we're seeing. I'm guessing the filmmaker likely sensed he needed to try to spruce up - or at least break up -- what otherwise seemed like an all-too-familiar and certainly depressing plot trajectory.
It's also seemingly done to show that no matter how good or even great a parent you might be, sometimes your kid is going to disappoint or even shock you by behavior that seems to come out of the blue. That's somewhat hammered home by the inclusion of the hauntingly bittersweet, kids-grow-up-so-fast "Fiddler on the Roof" parenting ballad, "Sunrise Sunset."
So, what we're left with is a downer flick that features good performances from all involved, but ends up as one of those movies you'll never want to watch again. But it does serve as a cautionary tale, albeit one without any real answers or solutions, about the dangers of a growing epidemic in America. "Beautiful Boy" rates as a 6 out of 10.
Reviewed October 28, 2018 / Posted November 2, 2018
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