Review: Beautiful Boy film exposes the harsh realities of living with an addiction

Illustration by Jake Barnard

Illustration by Jake Barnard

Beautiful Boy, released on Oct. 12, is a harrowing narrative of the shared experiences between a father and son dealing with the the son’s ongoing abuse of Crystal Meth.

Nic Sheff seems to have everything a teenage boy could possibly want: loving parents, a promising future, and a seemingly clear path post-high school graduation. But when Nic begins experimenting with drugs, his curiosity spirals into a grueling meth addiction.

The film is based off the true-life memoirs Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff and Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by Nic’s father David Sheff. The film version is a compilation of the two novels showing addiction from both an inside and outside perspective.

Beautiful Boy features Timothée Chalamet as Nic Sheff and Steve Carell as David Sheff. The film mostly follows David Sheff’s crusade of trying to pull his son out of the darkness and anguish of living with an addiction.

David tries to understand Nic’s addiction, but as the film progresses the audience sees the downward spiral Nic is falling into. Multiple rounds of rehab, intervention and support groups cannot keep Nic from the allurement of drugs.

Even though the film reveals the unsavory realness of loving someone with an addiction, Carell’s character never gives up on his son.

After one seemingly successful round of rehab, Nic leaves home to go to college in an attempt to pursue a “normal” life. Nic studies creative writing to pursue his career as a writer and he even meets a girl and begins a romantic relationship. But as time passes, he is unable to cope with the pressure he is facing and falls back into his drug dependency.

In one scene, David and Nic meet at a cafe after the two had not seen one another in quite some time. Nic shows up under the influence and asks David for money. David, aware of Nic’s lack of sobriety, declines his request for money. Nic explains to his father that meth is the only thing in his life that turns the world from “black and white” to “technicolor.”

This interaction is one of many between Nic and David that is both heartbreaking yet a reminder of how drugs have completely consumed Nic’s life to the point where he is unable to think about anything else.

Chalamet’s performance as Nic is far from his previous roles in films. In Chalamet’s first academy award nominated movie Call Me By Your Name, Chalamet plays a young, naive teenage boy in the coming-of-age story. Beautiful Boy proves that Chalamet can transform from his usual pretty-boy archetype to a slightly unsettling, raw representation of drug dependency.

Carell, on the other hand, has played a wide variety of roles during his long, successful acting career. Carell produced an authentic reaction of a father trying to take care of and support his mentally ill son while representing the unconditional love between a father and son.

Whether or not the watcher has experienced addiction themselves or through a loved one, Nic and David Sheff’s stories are both relatable and beautifully told. Beautiful Boy will tug at your heartstrings unlike any other film you will see this year.

VoicesMarta Rigstad