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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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“Beautiful Boy” Great acting saves mediocre film

Photo by Via IMDb
Beautiful Boy

The pair of memoirs written by David and Nicolas Sheff depict the heart wrenching tale of a father-son relationship as Nicolas struggles with meth addiction.
Unfortunately, the film adaptation of these memoirs, “Beautiful Boy,” directed by Felix van Groeningen, struggles to adapt the emotional tales of the Scheff family successfully on the screen. Although the film struggles to effectively depict the true devastation of addiction, Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet save the film through their powerhouse performances as David and Nicolas.
The film was adapted from both David and Nicolas’ individual memoirs of their strained relationship during Nicolas’ addiction, but the screenwriters, van Groeningen and Luke Davies, chose to focus on David’s story. This directorial choice causes the film to lack the necessary depth of the complex relationship. With only one side of the story, the audience does not get any sort of justification for the actions of Nicolas throughout the film. Ultimately, the film is frustratingly one-sided, and thus the film feels incomplete. Furthermore, this decision to focus solely on David’s story censors the plot from the raw and horrifying stories from Nicolas’ battles with meth addiction.
The music choices, especially early on, in the film are irritating and confines the audience to a packaged, emotional reaction and does not allow for a natural emotional response to build as the plot unfolds. The choice of music isn’t the issue, but the artificial focus and volume of the music has the opposite effect on the tone of the scene, rather than the intended sentimental reaction.
Now, since the film focuses most of the storyline on David rather than Nicolas, Carell is able to flourish in nearly every scene. From the sleepless nights spent driving around San Francisco frantically searching for his son, to the heartbreaking scene where Nicolas unveils his is addiction to his father and mother for the first time, Carell effortlessly and effectively embodies the range of overwhelming emotions that David is experiencing during this time. Carell, who has proven his acting capabilities in nearly every genre at this point in his career, keeps the emotional involvement of the audience throughout the film and makes up for the annoying directorial choices of the film.
Even with the little amount of dialogue and character development of his character, Nicolas, Chalamet gives life to the two-dimensional character. Chalamet shares the screen with Carell in nearly every scene that he appears in, but even with the acting talent of Carell, Chalamet hijacks the scene with his poignant acting style. Similarly to Carell, Chalamet smoothly displays his elite acting range as his work erases the line between actor and subject and he effectively fills his role with the utmost potency. Although not nearly as experienced as Carell, Chalamet is quickly making a name for himself. In 2017, Chalamet appeared in four films, including one of the best performances of the year with his work in Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me by Your Name.” This year, Chalamet continues to establish himself among the best young actors.
The poor directorial choices of van Groeningen repress the film from reaching its potential for emotional impact. However, the performances of Carell and Chalamet breathe life into a film that lacks completeness. Felix van Groeningen is a rising Belgian filmmaker and this is his first English-language film, so, despite his inabilities in “Beautiful Boy,” there is hope for the future of his career.
Rating: 3.5/5

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