Beautiful Boy (2018): Movie Review

Beautiful Boy (2018)

Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell offer acting showcases in a poorly constructed story of father and son dealing with addiction.  Based on David and Nic Sheff’s memoirs Beautiful Boy and Tweak, the family drama collides with the worst soundtrack in memory and haphazard pacing to produce a better acted but ultimately as un-affecting portrait as Boy Erased. Carell’s paternal concern is coated with high drama.  Tackling addiction therapy with an investigative journalist’s fervor, Carell bares an emotional side not before breached by the actor, a precursor to the worrisome Welcome to Marwen this Christmas. Chalamet really shines as the meth addled Nic. Bouncing between rehab and relapse, Nic is a mess of anger and disappointment, each bad decision wearing into a hopeless seeming start to adulthood.  As Chalamet becomes more desperate, we see the neural decay from meth play into his disconnection from reality. The showy role didn’t swallow his immense talent; the scene that opens the trailer in the diner is depressing and jarring as the father and son come to terms with the meth-filled canyon between them. Maura Tierney as Steve Carell’s wife and Nic’s stepmother does as much as she can with a limited role; standing aside until she has to step in with a forceful hand.  Her silent car chase expresses her own exhaustion at the father-son shuffle step. Director Felix van Groeningen (The Broken Circle Breakdown) manages the scene by scene breakdown with his exceptional actors, but somewhere along the way the story lost any momentum in his recollection of a very valuable story. Just like Boy Erased, the film didn’t make me feel anything. Whether that means I just wasn’t able to be moved (maybe) or I’m a soulless, unfeeling monster (most likely), it’s been a weekend of intense situations with passing impact.  Thank goodness for the soft landing of Paddington 2 on HBO.

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