Beautiful Boy

Directed by Felix Van Groeningen

Starring Steve Carell, Timothy Chalamet, Maura Tierny and Amy Ryan

David and Nic Sheff were very closely involved in the development of this film, and they deserve lots of credit for telling their story and also for ensuring the film maintained credibility. Not always an easy watch, the story brings to life what happens when your beautiful child loses themselves to addiction. And this can happen to any child. Even ones who are deeply loved and cared for.

This heartbreaking story is mostly told from the perspective of Dad, David Sheff, Steve Carell is convincing as this desperate, broken father who does not want to give up on his son. But it is Timothy Chalamet, who portrays the even more desperate and broken son, who delivers the most convincing performance. I suppose it’s hard to write accurately about your experience as a drug addict when your memories are all messed up. And while the film doesn’t go too far down the dark path, it’s dark enough. The real message here is one all of us need to understand, that you cannot save an addict. You can love them, you can support their recovery but they need to save themselves. It is the most stressful and helpless situation a parent can go through and to get through it yourself you need to keep it together which is no easy task.

I have one concern about the film and that is that the use of Timothy Chalamet, Hollywood’s beloved “It Boy”, might romanticize addiction. While his performance is brilliant, I wish they’d used an unknown. Addiction is brutal. Making it seem pretty doesn’t help anyone. The screening I attended was full of young people there to see Timothy. Thankfully he didn’t attend this second screening.

I didn’t attend the premiere screening because I wasn’t sure I could sit through the screening. In hindsight, I wish I had to hear the Q&A with the Sheffs. They are so fortunate to be able to tell their story together.

This was one of the many “Film Food For Parents” I saw at TIFF. Others include – Boy Erased, Giant Little Ones, Shoplifters, Where Hands Touch, Wildlife, Float Like A Butterfly and Roma.

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