Directed by Felix van Groeningen in his English-language feature debut and based on a best-selling pair of memoirs – Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff and Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff – Beautiful Boy tells the heartbreaking and inspiring true story of father and son David (Steve Carell) and Nic Sheff (Timothée Chalamet, as David tries to help his son with his addiction with drugs.
Based on the true story of journalist David Sheff and his son, Nic, Beautiful Boy is an emotional and heartfelt yet hard-hitting story about drug addiction from a point of view that we don’t often get to see – seeing the grief caused from the point of view of Nic’s family, but also involving a family with money.
Whilst no one’s addiction is easier than any other’s because of their personal circumstances, we’re used to seeing a story like this set in a cheap bedsit or stingy hotel room, as a character trawls the gritty backstreets of an unsympathetic city full of bad company.
But Beautiful Boy doesn’t show necessarily show how rough a situation or desperate a person can become in the fight for drugs. It isn’t a story about a character desperate to find their next fix. It’s about the fight against drugs, the hopeless but constant battle in Nic’s head that leads to so much despair, distrust, and pain.
The film doesn’t have the distractions of how hard life can be for an addict outside of their own head. The characters look clean and content and its locations are pretty to look at. Nic isn’t living on the streets, unable to look after himself. He’s at university with a roof over his head, with a family who has the money to support him with rehab or his own apartment whenever he’s accepting of it.
Beautiful Boy is more about the way drug addiction makes a person – and the family around them – feel, focusing on a character who struggles to fill the empty void inside himself. It’s that emotion behind Nic’s story that makes this film so heart-aching. The realisation that a person could have so much love around them, a good upbringing and more opportunities than most, yet they can still feel so empty. And there’s nothing they or anyone else can do about it.
Timothée Chalamet plays the role perfectly. His character has so much anger and pain inside him, but he’s also full of charm, with the father-son relationship shining beautifully throughout. I love a role like this from Steve Carell, too, and his chemistry with Chalamet has such a powerful impact.
The only thing that let me down about this film was the poor soundtrack. This could have been a five-star film for me if it used the right songs.