Friday, October 12, 2018

Movie with Abe: Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy
Directed by Felix Van Groeningen
Released October 12, 2018

There is a special bond that can exist between a father and son which begins at birth and continues as both grow older. Naturally, the nature of that relationship changes over time, as a son transforms from a child into a teenager into a young adult, and a father might face a decline in health and physical ability as the years pass. In some cases, a son emulates his father – or another parent – and in others, he rebels specifically to challenge authority. That behavior may not even be intentional, since personality and environmental factors can contribute to the development of issues that may be too difficult for even a father to be able to resolve.

David Sheff (Steve Carell) is a journalist who goes to see a doctor not for a story he is a writing but one that he is living, as his son Nic (Timothée Chalamet) is suffering from crippling addiction to a number of drugs. David’s biggest struggle is reconciling the young boy (Jack Dylan Grazer) he raised and had such a close relationship with and the defiant teenager he sees who puts on a happy face but spends so much of his time drowning in ways to make himself feel good using a variety of drugs. As multiple rehab treatments fail, David wonders how much more he can take to try to save his son.

If nothing else, this is an intimate portrait of two people who feel completely isolated by their circumstances. Nic is a child of divorce, and though both of his parents have afforded him a great life, he has his own demons that have caused him to forego his potential for great accomplishments. David becomes so obsessed with finding a way to connect with and help his son that he can’t focus on anything, including his wife and two other children, convinced that he can fix the situation.

Carell has ventured into drama recently after making a name for himself in comedy, and while he’s certainly believable in this role, it’s not his most dynamic or authentic performance. Chalamet, fresh off an Oscar-nominated breakthrough in “Call Me By Your Name,” manages to convey the real pain of addiction in his turn, which serves as a decent follow-up for him and a positive step in his career, and Grazer, who starred in “Me, Myself, and I,” is a dead ringer for him and a very competent pick to play his younger self. While this true story is indeed powerful and heart-wrenching, this adaptation doesn’t feel quite as vibrant and engaging as it should, presenting an impossible situation in an unremarkable, straightforward manner.


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