REVIEW: Beautiful Boy

Words by Wilson Huang

If you were to create a film about drug addiction, would you show a family with unconditional love and the success of initial treatment? Or would you show a world full of prejudice, failure and misunderstanding? Delivering an honest account of drug addiction, Beautiful Boy does the latter and shows the real effects of drug addiction.

Beautiful Boy does not shy away from distressing imagery. A reality of intravenous drug use is the inexperience many users initially have when it comes to injecting themselves, resulting in injuries and blood loss. Beautiful Boy also highlights a reality many people face when seeking treatment. In the United States, drug addiction treatment is under-funded and under-regulated and what might seem like success can be anything but one. Navigating complex familial relationships, Beautiful Boy, balances a wholesome and ideal picture of a family to one that is faced with the constant struggle of not knowing how to help.

Central to the film is its approach to time and it successfully highlights the humanity of its characters, despite the tough situations presented. The movie does not present characters who are heartless or ‘wilful drug addicts’, but those who, despite the best of intentions, fall short. The film illustrates that even the most well-adjusted can fall short.

Based on a memoir by David Sheff (played by Steve Carell) on his son’s Nic (played by Timothée Chalamet) crystal meth addiction, Beautiful Boy delivers a harrowing account of drug addiction and how it affects not only the addict but also their family. While at times it may have been slow and somewhat difficult to follow, both Carell and Chalamet deliver showcase characters who despite their problems are first and foremost a father and his son who struggle with the reality of how our society sees drug addiction.

Drug addiction is a chronic medical illness, yet, our government insists on policy that has led to the highest number of drug-induced deaths in 20 years. Support the long road to  treatment.

Pulp Editors