van Groeningen, Felix
Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video
- Brinker, Dustin
- Date of entry: Nov-30-2020
David Sheff (Steve Carell) and Nic Sheff (Timothée Chalamet) never had a stereotypical father-son relationship, one moment sharing a joint by a Volvo 240, another speaking Klingon in a small-town café in California. The fallout of divorce proceedings and long-distance shared custody seemed to solidify their relationship further; only Nic’s summer and holiday stays in LA with his mother could separate him from his journalist father–that is, until he starts experimenting with drugs. Beginning with marijuana and alcohol, Nic eventually finds himself using meth in his teens, his intellectual precocity feeding an existential need to escape. His substance use disorder, with meth at the forefront, takes hold of his life. Over the course of roughly five years, Nic fluctuates between relapse and sobriety, resulting in two failed attempts at college, multiple instances of theft and deceit, a car chase, and a hospital admission, supposedly at Bellevue Hospital. David Sheff is all the while present to varying degrees, supporting his son in his efforts at rehabilitation while being decimated by anxiety over his child’s well-being and multiple disappearances. His concern often undermines his other responsibilities, namely being fully present in the lives of his current wife, Karen, and his two young children, Jasper and Daisy. This tension reaches its climax when Nic’s mom calls David imploring for help in getting Nic treatment. David, having reached a breaking point, refuses, saying, “I don’t think you can save people” [01:42:33]. Soon thereafter, Nic graphically overdoses for the second time and miraculously survives. The film ends with David and Nic embracing in the courtyard of a rehab facility while the second movement of Górecki's Symphony no. 3 plays in the background. Before the credits, the audience learns that, at the time of the film’s final production, Nic had been sober for 8 years.
Awards: Independent by Nature Award (Aspen Film Festival 2018); Founder’s Award for Best Feature (Chicago International Film Festival 2018); Hollywood Supporting Actor of the Year Award [Timothée Chalamet] & Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award [Felix van Groeningen] (Hollywood Film Awards 2018); Best Male Supporting Actor [Timothée Chalamet] (San Diego Film Critics Society 2018); Spotlight Award [Timothée Chalamet] (Palm Springs International Film Festival 2019)
Running Time (in minutes)
Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey through His Son’s Addiction and Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines