Beautiful Boy

As well as having some sort of ‘unusual sex scene‘ clause in every movie contract, Timothée Chalamet appears to be reliving Leonardo DiCaprio’s career, following up his youthful Oscar nomination with a biographical film about a drug addict who keeps a diary. Maybe avoid getting on a boat with him, just in case.

This true story of a writer (Steve Carell) and his meth-addicted son (Chalamet) is well acted and well depressing, providing a glossy and timely commentary on drug-related deaths in America. The wealthy family is unrepresentative of the social groups overwhelmingly addicted to crystal meth (you need resources at your disposal to write a memoir that becomes a film) but this does send the message that addiction affects all sorts of people. Felix Van Groeningen’s picture plays out in a realistic and balanced way that also happens to be aggravating, Oscar-baiting, irritating and nauseating.

Beautiful Boy feels like this year’s Manslaughter by the Sea, boasting impressive performances and cinematography but struggling narratively, as argument after argument leaves you numb over two hours. There’s something unconvincing about the central relationship (possibly just a failure on my part to take Carell seriously), while the women are left underdeveloped on the sidelines. The movie injects schmaltz (“I’ll cheer you on at your next swim meet,” Chalamet tells his little brother) and overdoses on the soundtrack, ultimately leaving you cold as turkey.

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