Beautiful Boy has wonderful performances that compensate for a story that didn’t translate well to the big screen.
|Director(s)||Felix van Groeningen|
|Written By||Luke Davies, Felix van Groeningen, David Sheff, Nic Sheff|
|Good If You Like||Depressing Movies
Movies Focusing on Drug Addiction
Films Which Come Off Like Oscar Bait
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Summary (Ending on 2nd Page)
For years Nick has struggled with addiction. It started with just relying on weed to take the edge off and the escape that provided evolved to cocaine, and other drugs, leading to crystal meth. All the while, his family suffered in trying to help him. His dad, David, especially who would drop everything to be a one-man search party. However, there comes a point when David asks himself: Where is that line where perseverance meets fighting for a lost cause?
After all, with his second wife Karen, he has two kids who are not even teenagers yet and he can’t keep abandoning them for his oldest. He can’t keep exposing them to Nick being well and the big brother they deserve to disappearing on them. Jasper, the middle child, seems to know Nick is on drugs. So comes the question, when will enough be enough? Also, how will this story end? Will it be with David embracing his son who is clean, healthy, and a vibrant writer or will the only thing of David’s embracing Nick be his tears?
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Who got Nick into drugs exactly? Also, we only saw him talk to a dealer once. Were those people his dealers?
- Also, how did he pay for them since we never see him beg and only steal once?
- Did Lauren survive? What happened to her?
A Long Hard Struggle
Beautiful Boy is equally about Nick’s struggles with addiction and his family trying to stick by him through it all. Something which can be a tough watch as we’re constantly reminded that it isn’t like Nick had a hard life. From what we see, he was loved by his parents, including step-mom Karen, adored by his younger siblings, and talented. He wasn’t an aimless rich kid who got into drugs to have something to do. Between being a talented writer and artist, also having parents who could afford paying his way through college, the world was Nick’s oyster.
Reminding you addiction, especially to things like crystal meth, isn’t something which is strictly a poor people’s problem. Also, when it comes to crystal meth, getting off that drug may seem damn near impossible. For the film really goes into the science of it and even how rehab centers can’t really do much for those over 18. Not to say they paint rehab as a waste of money, but the end credits do note they are unregulated and, if you watch John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, there are multiple stories out there which show how they take advantage of people. Especially those who the government is trying to assist.
But perhaps the hardest thing to watch is the helplessness of it all. From Jasper who just wants his older brother to be there for him to Nick’s parents worried about their child, even Nick himself who seems out of control, you might cry. For everyone is struggling so much that when some decide to let go, you don’t wanna say they are bad parents but recognize that they’ll end up dying themselves trying to change someone who is one overdose away from a casket.
On The Fence
Oscar Bait Vibe
Surprisingly, I didn’t cry during this movie. Something I contribute partly to the fact I still struggle with Carell trying to be seen as a serious actor. For being that the way he talks and mannerisms remind you of his more deadpan comedic characters, that takes away from the movie a bit. Also, it is because, as rich as these characters are, the film seemingly wants to just beat you into submission. It tries so hard to make you feel, and not by putting you in David’s shoes, mind you. It wants your sympathy more than your empathy.
What I mean by that is, you have to recognize there is a certain privilege that Nick has. One which makes it where he can get into rehab places which costs some people’s yearly salary. There is the privilege of him always having soft places to land and, while I don’t mean to make it seem those who come from well-off families can’t be emphasized with, the issue here is you only question if Nick will make it when the film wants you to. Almost like this isn’t a real person’s story but a Lifetime movie made to be a tear jerker which has a consistent “Will he or won’t he?” to get you in your feelings.
That manipulation, rather than just telling a story, is what makes it seem this movie was edited to take advantage of its subject matter rather than expose many families’ plights. Leaving us with, at best, what seems like an Oscar bait movie but, at worse, feels almost exploitive. For while Beautiful Boy has a heart, it’s artificial.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive) | Purchase Or Rent On (Fandango/ Amazon) | Get The Book The Movie Is Based On
It’s a weird thing to say that a movie’s performances were remarkable but the story diluted them. Yet, that is what happens in Beautiful Boy. In us seeing a family in crisis, unsure how a young man went from drugs like weed to one which is maddeningly difficult to get away from, this should be a tear jerker for the ages. Yet, it somehow loses itself. Maybe it is from trying to hard to be a tear-jerker? It could stem from playing with the idea Nick may die to injects some adrenaline into the movie? Either way, within 45 minutes of this film, you’ll be checking your phone, watch, whatever can tell time, wondering how much time is left? Hence the mixed label.
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