Chew's Reviews - Beautiful Boy

By Gary Chew | October 25, 2018 |    

Opens Friday, October 26 | 

If you happen to be a person who has no children, or someone who has yet to decide whether to have kids, Beautiful Boy will not be an entertainment experience for you. If you are a parent, and been lucky enough that few problems or obstacles have arisen for them as you've raised your kids, you will mourn the circumstances David Sheff endures trying to shepherd Nic (the son) through the ugly nightmare of addiction. It could well be a watershed moment for a non-parenting person, on seeing Beautiful Boy, to conclude that the wiser choice would be to remain childless. The film is just that depressive.

But wait, Belgian director Felix Van Groeningen has crafted a movie that might be an important part of bringing a hopeless addict back from the precipice. I use the word “part” since a film, alone, couldn't motivate a seriously addicted person to … just like that … get clean. A Beautiful Boy, I'd bet, would be therapeutic, though.

Steve Carell continues to shine taking on another heavy role. He's done them before but still remains a really funny dude while just being himself. Carell is the father, David Sheff. He's a well-known and respected “for real” journalist who lives in Northern California.Newcomer Timothée Chalamet plays Nic. Maybe you saw Chalamet with Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name.

Despite the obviously palliative effect the film might have, if not a total cure, Americans in the millions now crippled with virulent varieties of addiction to alcohol and drugs ... prescription and illegal … are likely to commiserate with the Sheff family's drudgery trying to defeat these demons.

To be fair, all of the foregoing needed to be mentioned, as the picture is also a drudge. Depression is in every scene: rolling over and over again with Nic getting clean, then succumbing once again to let the “monkey take that seat there on his back.” That doesn't move the story much, except for occasional segments tossed in to punk you to the seat's edge thinking something awful is about to occur beyond the next “curve in the road.” I offer this: that does keep you attentive, since one scene after another deals the “same ol' same ol'.” Nic just can't “climb out of the hole.”

Those who seldom get to Northern California, especially just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, will get some beautiful travelogue moments as the Sheff's motor over that big, beautiful span, and in and about Marin County, all of it by the planet's largest ocean. It's always a sight for the sore eyes of Valley folks.

Timothée Chalamet has a face that the camera can't take its eyes off. I said it before, so I'm going to say it again. Chalamet looks as if he might be Elizabeth Taylor's great-grandson This December, he'll be 23 and is a U-S and French citizen. So, for the young ladies reading this: if Timothée, speaks to you, he's able to do it in either English or French. Be prepared.

You also saw him in Sacramentan Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird. He's agreed to do another film with her. Greta claims Chalamet reminds her of Christian Bale, Lennie DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis. I love Greta Gerwig, but I disagree. If truth be told, should a future film director put Monsieur Chalamet in a bright, red, waist-length windbreaker, it is quite possible the young actor may attain James Dean status.  
 Copyright © 2018 by Gary Chew. All rights reserved.


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