American films

Beautiful Boy film review: Timothée Chalamet, Steve Carell in grim addiction drama

  • Felix Van Groeningen’s film is based on the separate memoirs of a teenage crystal meth addict and his loving father
  • Chalamet and Carell both give insightful, emotional performances
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2018, 6:06pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2018, 6:06pm

3.5/5 stars

Directed by Belgium’s Felix Van Groeningen ( The Broken Circle Breakdown ), this story about a teenager’s addiction doesn’t shirk from showing two lesser known facts about drug use. The first is that addicts can enjoy their addiction and like the drugs. The second is that no matter how much effort is expended, it is almost impossible to stop them taking drugs if they don’t want to stop themselves.

Call Me by Your Name review: heartbreaking Oscar-winning gay romance

Although Beautiful Boy, based on the separate memoirs of an addict and his father, tones down the horrors of drug addiction – it veers away from showing its physically disgusting, brutal side – it never tries to pacify viewers about the causes of addiction and how love and care can cure it. The drug itself is the enemy throughout, and it is an invincible opponent.

David Sheff (Steve Carell) is a thoughtful middle-class father who is shocked when he discovers his son Nic (Timothée Chalamet) is addicted to crystal meth, a life-destroying drug. Nic has been showered with affection throughout his life, and David feels that they have always been close.

David pays for his son to enter rehab a number of times, but Nic’s desire for the drug means that he always walks out on his treatment. David realises that he can’t stop his son’s addiction, and ceases trying for a while.

It is a grim story which Van Groeningen leavens with a copious use of flashbacks to happier times. Carell’s insightful performances keep mawkishness at bay, while Chalamet essays the unpredictable emotions of an addict with precision. A cast including Carell’s co-star Amy Ryan from The Office shows the destruction the boy’s addiction wreaks on his family.

Beautiful Boy opens on October 25

Want more articles like this? Follow SCMP Film on Facebook