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  • James Rutherford

'Beautiful Boy': A Devastating Chronicle of Addiction, Reflection and Eternal Devotion


Movie poster for the film Beautiful Boy starring Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell

Beautiful Boy (2018) is a somber and emotionally devastating true-life drama starring Steve Carell as David Sheff, a successful New York Times writer whose teenage son Nic (Timothée Chalamet) struggles with drug addiction and recidivism as a young adult. Desperate to safeguard the beautiful soul he has cherished since birth, David yearns to mend Nic's shattered sense of self and thwart his dependence on chemicals—even as Nic suffers repeatedly from highly discouraging relapses.


Beginning with his disappearance from the family home in Northern California as a teenager, Nic eventually returns with clear signs of drug use and is committed to a rehabilitation clinic. After a repeat transgression, his eventual improvement inspires David to support his son's decision to attend college in Los Angeles. Given free reign away from his father's watchful eye, however, Nic soon falls under the sway of full blown narcotics—a fateful transgression that continues to bedevil him as the years progress and he rambles his way to New York City and eventually San Francisco.


Co-written and directed by Belgian filmmaker Felix van Groeningen (The Broken Circle Breakdown) and based on 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 is a sorrowful yet thoroughly compelling depiction of familial disrepair. Carell delivers an enormously earnest performance as the aggrieved David, whose heart aches for his beloved first-born, while Chalamet is simply extraordinary as the forlorn yet wistful young pariah. A harrowing, profoundly sincere tale of distress, the film ultimately succeeds as an unprecedented display of adoration and human devotion.

 

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