The Highlander

“Beautiful Boy” shines light on ugly reality

The new film is spectacular in its discussion of addiction

Alex Mandanas, Managing Editor

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“Close your eyes, have no fear. The monster’s gone, he’s on the run and your daddy’s here. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy.”

Those are lyrics from “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon, the song that gives its namesake to the new Timothee Chalamet/ Steve Carell drama Beautiful Boy.

The film follows Nic Sheff (Chalamet), a struggling young man who is addicted to drugs (most damningly crystal meth) and his devastated, conflicted father Dave Sheff (Carell) as they tackle a difficult goal: sobriety.

Beautiful Boy is raw and emotional– it is impossible to not have visceral response to the journey that the characters take (a rollercoaster depicting the highs of recovery and the lows of relapse). This reaction is in large part due to Chalamet’s incredible performance.

Chalamet makes the rest of the cast seem like they’re acting. He’s that good. The abraded emotion, the impeccable  physicality and the honesty that he tells the story with all contribute to one of the year’s best portrayals.

That is not to say that the other actors were unconvincing. Carell managed to play the confusion and despair of the situation expertly, almost perfectly balancing the feelings of love and betrayal that he feels towards his son.

The cinematography was also something to behold. The subtle emphasis on the treacherousness of the central California coastline was not only amazing to see visually. It was a great underlying touch that commented on the trials of addiction.

Beautiful Boy  is based on a true story. Nic and Dave Sheff are real people who wrote about addiction from their own unique perspectives in their respective books Tweak and Beautiful Boy. Knowing that the disturbing story that was being projected onto the screen actually happened was ultimately made the film effective.

At the end of the film, a black screen and white words remind viewers that drug overdoses are the leading cause of death in Americans under 50. Not only did that surprise me, it frightened me. After seeing Nic’s odyssey through addiction, it was impossible not to feel that way. Then again, that’s the point.

Overall Beautiful Boy was well-acted, poignant, and culturally relevant. Hopefully viewers can gain some insight into the mental, emotional, and social repercussions of addiction and the stigma that surrounds it can be mitigated.

Bonus: if you’re a fan of The Office, get ready for a mini reunion because both Steve Carell (who plays Michael Scott) and Amy Ryan (who plays Holly Flax) appear in this movie.

The final verdict: A

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