At the ripe old age of twenty-three, Timothée Chalamet has already cemented his place as one of America’s brightest young actors. After starting out in TV, a few small roles in major films and larger roles in indie films (notably the unfairly overlooked One and Two) didn’t prepare the world for his breakout in 2017. Notable performances in Call Me by Your Name, Hostiles and Ladybird announced him to the world and his mix of Hollywood heartthrob and indie darling ensure he’s on a fast track to becoming an ‘A’-lister. His performance in Beautiful Boy cements this reputation.
New York Times writer David Sheff (Steve Carell) fears the worst after his teenage son Nic (Chalamet) disappears. When he turns up two days later, it’s clear that something isn’t right and his father notices signs of drug use. Despite checking Nic into rehab, he keeps falling off the wagon. This begins a long journey for father and son which takes a huge toll on David’s new wife Karen (Maura Tierney) and impacts on their young family.
Beautiful Boy is an impeccably well-acted and assuredly-made drama about a father’s love for his son. Sheff tries everything he can to save Nic, and it’s this unconditional commitment which shines through. Whilst it’s based on a true story, it does feel like another tale of ‘privileged teen goes off the rails’. There’s a strong argument to say we’ve seen too much of that but Felix van Groeningen’s film manages to just about stay on the right side of worthy. Beautiful Boy is empathetic film-making with its heart in the right place.
Beautiful Boy is released on DVD & Blu-ray by Studiocanal on 20 May.