Beautiful Boy chronicles Nic Sheff’s (Chalamet) meth addiction through the eyes of his father, David (Steve Carell). Together, the family deals with addiction, survival, relapse, and recovery, based on the memoirs by David and Nic.
I was so excited going into this movie—I couldn’t wait to see this movie that was supposed to tell an addiction story carefully and compassionately. Unfortunately, it ended up being one-note. This was lacking in any dynamism that would have brought energy or intensity to the plot. Instead, all interest came from the two main performances by Chalamet and Carell.
Timothée Chalamet is the real deal. He splashed onto the scene last year as Saoirse Ronan’s love interest in Ladybird, then hit it big as the lead in Call Me By Your Name with Armie Hammer. For the second year running, he’s coming out with some fantastic performances that could see him get some nominations—or at least a lot more praise. His performance is gripping and he wrings out all emotion he can from his character, Nic.
Carell is having his own renaissance with some great performances. He gives David a life I didn’t expect and somehow transforms the subtlest moments into some of the most heartbreaking scenes. Carell and Chalamet have an immediate bond that endures throughout the movie. It went past their dialogue, frequently talking at cross-purposes, and felt like a true father-son connection.
Both actors are really given time to languish here, with long shots that allow audiences to really dig into small changes or hidden feelings. The cinematography and editing are also real winners here. Shots of Carell are careful, smooth, focused. He’s always in the frame and comes off much more poised. What is captured of Chalamet is much more chaotic, from strange angles or partially obstructed. It’s more fragmented and hectic.
Beautiful Boy is presented and performed well, but the plot and script failed to make it a great movie.