REVIEW: ‘Beautiful Boy’ emotionally captures the struggles of addiction

The difficult struggles of addiction, and the impacts it has on family members, are explored heavily in this movie starring Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet.

Carell plays David Sheff, a father whose son Nic (Chalamet) is addicted to methamphetamine and other drugs. The movie begins with David identifying his son’s issues and looking at the solutions that are on the table.

However, despite continued efforts, the addiction remains a problem for Nic, and the situation puts continuous strain on both main characters, as well as their relationship.

“Beautiful Boy” is a film with a lot of repetition. The phases of entering rehab, recovery and relapse are repeated a few times throughout the picture’s runtime. In some films, this repetition can damage a story with a feeling that no progress is being made.

However, it works here. As someone who’s reported on addiction and subjects like the opioid crisis, I’ve come to understand just how big of a monster addiction can be. It is repetitive, people do have relapses, and there’s no easy fix.

This is very well detailed in “Beautiful Boy,” as it shows both the struggle for the person going through these phases, and the helplessness a loved one can feel when relapses do take place. Despite the best efforts of both the addict and their support network, sometimes setbacks happen.

Watching it unfold is very compelling cinema, with this family’s story hooking you in from the start and not letting go. The journey the family goes through is a heartbreaking one, and as an audience member, you can feel that sorrow.

Despite the praise, the film does hit a few snags in its storytelling. The film’s use of flashbacks aren’t always done with smoothest transitions and the editing had a few problems. Plus, the use of music was a bit questionable in some scenes.

It remains a largely strong picture, though, thanks to the two lead actors. Carell is great here, perfectly displaying both his character’s frustration over not being able to help his son more and the devastation he experiences when there are situations of relapse.

Chalamet is the real star, though. He is so effective in his portrayal of someone who’s suffering from addiction. His moments of desperation have authenticity and it feels very real.

“Beautiful Boy” has some flaws, its storytelling execution probably could have been improved, but overall, it’s an emotional, engaging movie. 4 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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