Rarely has a movie script been developed from the combined material of two blood-related autobiographers, but that is exactly the case with BEAUTIFUL BOY, 2018 starring Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, and Maura Tierney. Father and son, David and Nic Sheff, both wrote bestselling autobiographies detailing Nic’s addition to crystal meth, the resulting material contributing to the development of this film.
BEAUTIFUL BOY drops us right in the middle of the Sheff’s struggle, as David fights to understand Nic’s addiction and his inability to stay straight. David literally tries anything to comprehend his son’s drug abuse, personally utilizing every contact he has for inside information on possible treatments. Shocked to hear that long term recovery rates have dropped below 10%, David continues to research and fight, never sure if anything he’s doing is of actual value when it comes to Nic’s long-term sobriety.
Witnessing Nic continue to drop down the chain of addiction, David struggles to find a weak link where he can intercede and break the cycle. Slowly, and painfully, he finally comes to the realization that as Nic’s father, he can only stand by in a supportive role, as his son is the only one who can break the chain.
Flashbacks in this film frequently pop up, but I found them appropriately set within the storyline, helping us try to understand David’s mindset as he longs for the son he once knew, absolutely devastated by the young man his boy has become. Too bad this movie had nothing new to offer the viewers, as we’ve seen everything here before.
More than most, this story makes us worry about all those families and addicts who can’t afford the best rehab centers, and the repeated stays. Who will help them? Who will stand up for the addict without parents willing, or even able, to stand behind them and never give up? And ultimately, who will mourn for the addict when addiction wins?
BEAUTIFUL BOY has a surprisingly diverse soundtrack, which suits David’s shift in mindset as his son’s addiction rages on, his own perception of the world changing with the never-ending developments. Directed by Felix Van Groeningen, Rated R, 112 mins, biography, drama, ***3 stars out of five.