Film Festivals

TIFF 2018: Beautiful Boy Review

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here.

Synopsis: Beautiful Boy is a deeply moving portrait of a family’s unwavering love and commitment to each other in the face of their son’s addiction and his attempts at recovery. Based on two memoirs, one from acclaimed journalist David Sheff and one fromhisson, Nic Sheff. As Nic repeatedly relapses, the Sheffs are faced with the harsh reality that addiction is a disease that does not discriminate and can hit any family at any time. (VVS Films)

Starring: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, and Maura Tierney

Writers: Luke Davies and Felix Van Groeningen

Director: Felix Van Groeningen

Rating: R (United States)

Running Time: 112mins

Trailer:

This is a movie that has Oscar written all over it, but is there truly anything beyond that shiny package?

There unfortunately isn’t, and it’s quite upsetting to say that this is one of the biggest disappointments as a film fan. Timothée Chalamet, fresh off his newfound but massive following post-Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird, along with an ensemble which includes the always amazing Steve Carell, with quite the ambitious premise to boot. However, none of these things really come together to bring anything remarkable to the screen- which not only gives us a forgettable final product, but an often frustrating one.

There is some good here, and some things that it will definitely please many. To begin, story and writing issues aside, Carell and Chalamet take on quite the transformations here, and this story line really gives them great opportunities to show off their many talents. The story itself, although quite flawed, is intriguing enough to keep the interest of viewers. In addition, its worth noting the wonderful cinematography, lighting and color grading that truly emphasize the beauty of Los Angeles.

The true problem here, though, is the lack of emotion. The characters never change as people, and its incredibly difficult to resonate with the character of Nic Sheff (Chalamet) in the way he is written – he just keeps on doing drugs, and never feels guilt. Carell, in the role of David Sheff, is just not written in a way that looks like he cares – there is nothing in the way we see the character portrayed that gives you even the slightest of emotion. In addition, the manner in which the story is structured is extremely jarring – the excessive time jumps are never necessary, and just make the film quite confusing and angering.

For as much hype that surrounded Beautiful Boy, its sheer unremarkable quality caused it to get buried amongst the madness of the fest, and it’s looking like the Academy voters are heading in the same direction.

Score: 4/10

Follow me on twitter @daniel_azbel and on letterboxd @danthemovieman.

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