Beautiful Boy (Content Warning: Drug Usage and Addiction)


By Bianca Torres-Hamlin ’22

A drama film without the captivating plot twists of a drama, Beautiful Boy starring Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet, sends the audience on a real and heartbreaking journey of a family’s experience of survival and redemption through drug addiction. At no point is drug use glorified or exaggerated, but rather shown from a family’s reality. Beautiful Boy, directed by Felix Van Groeningen, is an attempt from Hollywood to eradicate stigmas around drug addiction and demonstrate the disease from a family’s point of view.

Based on a true story, Beautiful Boy includes the accounts of David and Nic Sheff, and authors of the memoirs Beautiful Boy by David Sheff and Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff, which the film is adapted from. Shot with a montage of flashbacks and real-time scenes, the film depicts a father struggling to come to grips with his son’s disease — while his son tries to come to terms with it as well. Complete with aesthetically pleasing scenery and emotionally expressive background music, the film makes Nic Sheff’s (Timothee Chalamet) journey through drug addiction a real life experience.

Instead of depicting Nic as a raging demon as those with addiction are often depicted in film, Nic is instead depicted as a real person, who is struggling with his identity and trying to find a pathway to contentment in life. As David Sheff (Steve Carell) loses touch with who his son becomes, the audience too feels distant from Nic, showing the devastating effects of a drug dependency on not only an addict, but those around them.

Whilst the plot of the film seems to plateau at times, I think the unexaggerated aspect of the plot reflects how drug addiction affects everyone, even the most “normal” people.

The movie opens with Carell saying, “There are moments that I look at him, this kid that I raised, who I thought I knew inside and out and I wonder who he is.” This sense of speculation on the reason behind his son’s disease remain at the forefront of the film, as the audience joins David Sheff as he commits his life to finding out what makes drugs more powerful than his son.

The film is the journey of a father losing touch with his son, and trying to discover how he can help him, realizing that drug addiction does not have a simple cure. Though at times agonizing to watch, the journey within the film is worth sticking through until the end. While devastatingly painful and without many light hearted moments, the film reflects the hope and beauty of family and how even if we cannot fix people, we can still love them and give them continuous support.

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Image Credit: Pride

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