After going to a screening of ‘Beautiful Boy,’ a friend texted me wanting to get drinks. I demurred, because the movie made me emotionally exhausted. Director Felix Van Groenigen has adapted David and Nic Sheff’s twin set memoirs of the latter’s battle with addiction and the movie vividly portrays what happens to someone with the disease, and at times it feels like an endless cycle – of vicious highs and lows, of benders and recoveries, and after almost two hours of this, I just felt my heart so heavy. Perhaps it is the ‘caretaker’ in me, a role I have played for most people most of my life – though not lately and not now. There is a part of me that wants to scoop up poor Timothee Chalamet and shake him, or hug him, or both. Chalamet’s portrayal felt at times too real, a testament to how good he is. He literally transforms before our eyes, from a surf-loving teenager to a bonafide methhead. It is one of the most crushing performances I have seen in recent memory, and yes there were tears, and lots.
But I am not blind to the film’s other flaws. The story is mostly told from the father, Davis’s point of view, and in the beginning of the film he asks why could something like this happen to his beautiful boy of a son. We never get an answer to that question. Steve Carrell plays David with a lot of warmth, but also with a touch of indifference. We sense his love for his son, and we get the sacrifices he did for him, but the character is much too heroic, and i never got a sense of its full texture, unlike Chalamet who goes all-out for Nic.
So as a film, we get short strawed, but Chalamet’s performance more than makes up for it. Above everything else, we see a still fearless actor with still no guards whatsoever. I hope he never loses that rawness, as it is what gives him the edge to be one of the finest young actors around.