Beautiful Boy is a touching film that will break your heart. Based on the memoirs of David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy chronicles the inconsistent dynamic between a coping father (Steve Carell) and his distraught son (Timothée Chalamet). The film leaps back-and-forth throughout their lives; capturing spirited memories, personal bonds, and the rift they currently face caused by Nic’s serious drug addiction.
Filmmaker Felix van Groeningen uses similar nonlinear storytelling techniques he executed in 2013’s The Broken Circle Breakdown, but I found his structuring to be more effective in Beautiful Boy. In his latest film, instead of using memories to manipulate the viewer’s emotions, Van Groeningen uses flashbacks to mirror the past and the present, which he further builds on to represent the natural process of overwriting life. Words and locations take on new meanings as the traumatic dilemma creates cracks in an otherwise healthy relationship. As an observational piece on rewritten lives, Beautiful Boy is a fascinating film.
As a film about addiction, it’s good but open-ended; rather than offering an overall message, a blunt understanding, or an encompassing conclusion to David and Nic’s struggle. While this may be frustrating for some movie goers and even triggering for viewers experiencing similar issues around addiction, in the end, Beautiful Boy wants to send audiences home with a compassionate embrace.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie