Movie Review: ‘Beautiful Boy’ details addiction

Emily J. Sullivan
Staff Writer

“Beautiful Boy” is a film based on the pair of best-selling addiction memoirs, “Beautiful Boy” by David Sheff and “Tweak” by his son, Nic Sheff.

“Beautiful Boy” is written from David’s perspective, detailing the heartbreak and helplessness that parenting an addict often entails. “Tweak” is written from Nic’s perspective, illustrating his desperation and defeat in battling the disease of addiction.

The film chronicles the close relationship between a father (Steve Carell) and son (Timothée Chalamet) both impacted by the son’s severe drug addiction.

Nic was a promising writer who grew up in a relatively stable, upper-middle class family.

Despite Nic’s comfortable upbringing, he began experimenting with drugs and alcohol at a young age, which led to a full-blown crystal meth addiction before college.

David goes to incredible lengths to support his son, fight for his recovery and attempt to understand his affliction.

The film offers an important perspective that often goes unseen in films and memoirs depicting addiction – the perspective of the grieving parent, who suffers on the other end of their child’s addiction.

Carell authentically captures the way loving an addict can consume a person’s state of functioning.

Another important aspect of the film was the addict’s profound feelings of remorse that go hand in hand with the disease.

Nic is broken, he is angry with himself, frustrated he cannot seem to reach his potential, and filled with shame for the way he has impacted his family; something strikingly similar to how many addicts feel.

Chalamet gives a compelling performance as Nic and portrays the remorse of an addict wreaking havoc on their family in a very authentic way. When he apologizes, you can feel the severity of his apology and how exhausted he is from having to apologize so often.

The ups and downs of false hope offered by unsuccessful stints in rehabilitation programs, the pain of relapse after prolonged periods of sobriety, the fear of something inside a person that is so difficult to understand. The movie captures it all in a heartbreaking and realistic portrayal of this journey.

Emily J. Sullivan can be reached at

Emily J. Sullivan
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