Beautiful Boy, starring a chameleonic Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet – who really does not need any epitome – offers a poignant portrayal of addiction, particularly in the way it affects the people in the addict’s life.
The narrative structure abruptly pushes the viewer into the story, who is able to appreciate the slower and intense unfolding of the events that follows after the sudden impact. The chaotic beginning, travelling back and forth in time, trivially combined with emotion-evoking music, sets the father-son relationship that is the core of the narrative. An interesting take on parenthood and masculinity is explored through the drug addiction lens that the film adopts. Nic’s (Timothée Chalamet) stepmom (Maura Tierney) is a particularly compelling figure and draws out a picture of parenthood that goes beyond blood ties.
The film is a good example of the way cinema is able to suck its viewers into a narrative and encourage empathy with different characters. As the protagonist sinks in the fast-paced descent into the rabbit hole that is addiction, his helplessness is tangible. As his family – each member with their tools – tries to support and save the beautiful boy, their hope, always disappointed, leaves a bitter taste in the spectator’s mouth. Two different kinds of desperation, that make of this film a tough and dry punch in the stomach.
Although hopeful, the ending looks too much like the beginning, and even the reassuring caption before the ending titles is not able to relieve the sense of doom that the story leaves. I would definitely recommend it, but I feel the need to warn you: it will leave you empty and sad, very sad.