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Read: Beautiful Boy is a film very close to home

Most of the people I’ve known in my adult life have had a pretty relaxed view about recreational drugs, and have either indulged in taking them or are comfortable with the people they know doing so.  I have never taken non-prescription drugs, not because I’m a prude, but because when I was a kid I had first-hand experience of how drugs can rip a family apart. I’ve witnessed the ugly, disgusting and frightening side of addiction and it’s not something a child should see.

As you might imagine then, watching Beautiful Boy – a story about a young man’s descent into drug addiction brought up a few old and unpleasant memories. 

Watching the film, it’s hard to grasp exactly why Nic Sheff (Timothée Chalamet) follows the path he does. Sure he has the typical teenage angst and comes from a broken home, but there doesn’t seem to be that much wrong with his life. He has a good relationship with his divorced parents, though his father David (Steve Carell) is kind of controlling. His mum lives in another city, but she seems ok too.

Perhaps that’s the message here. Drug addiction affects ordinary families and some people are more susceptible to it than others. A lot of people experiment and some can’t handle it. For others, it’s about self-medicating due to undiagnosed mental health issues.

Beautiful Boy is compelling, though at times frustratingly slow. It does accurately depict the negative effects of long-term substance abuse and the incredible pain a family experiences when a loved one succumbs.

Timothée Chalamet gives the stand out performance in this film and provides a sympathetic realism to the story of a young boy whose life is unravelling. He depiction of the emotional bargaining, the self-loathing and the deviousness that addicts indulge in was superb.

Steve Carell is a fine actor and I think he did himself proud in Beautiful Boy – my one niggle is that I felt the way he delivered this role was too similar to the grieving father he played in Last Flag Flying.  There is a moment late in the film when the father makes a decision about his son’s addiction – this is probably the most compelling part of Carell’s entire performance and he does it so realistically.

Beautiful Boy is a film worth seeing because it tackles a difficult subject with sympathy and without sensation.

In cinemas 29th November 2018

Beautiful Boy     

120 Minutes

Starring: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan

Directed by: Felix Van Groeningen





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