Beautiful Boy

Beautiful boy
Beautiful boy
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Named after a John Lennon song, the sentimental drama is based on a pair of books written by father and son Sheff. Always from one point of view, a tragic family situation is described, in which a promising son unexpectedly falls into drug addiction. In the film adaptation, there was a synthesis of these two views, which unfortunately reduced the most interesting dimension of the work. So now we are talking about beautiful boy movie.

In general, it can be said that the result is a completely routine processing of a family melodrama. Director Felix Van Groeningen has the award-winning Broken Circle and last year’s Belgica behind him, and now he’s tried English and a larger production for the first time. Steve Carell as the father and the immensely talented Timothée Chalamet hold the spotlight, with Chalamet in particular showing that the Oscar nomination for Give Me Your Name was definitely not a shot in the dark.

However, no matter how hard they both try, the script skims over the surface emotionally and has absolutely nothing to surprise in terms of story. Consider: the son of a successful journalist is on the way to a good career, but instead of choosing a high-quality university, his susceptibility to almost all drugs shows up, and thus he ends up in a spiral of drugging, treatment, relapses and so on. Given that the film was also based on his book, we can’t really worry about how it will turn out. In the end, only a very dry and artistically safe variation on Requiem for a Dream remained.

The helplessness and seeming incomprehensibility of the decision that drives a normal person into drug addiction is nicely described; but he was able to sell this much more effectively two decades ago with Trainspotting. And Carell’s character shows that addiction takes many forms, but we still unfortunately remain at the level of explicit banalities. Fine for a school screening as part of drug prevention, not enough as a movie experience.

Van Groeningen tried to at least use post-rock music (performed by Sigur Rós or Mogwai, for example) and mine emotions using epic music underscoring the mosaic-like content. This is refreshing at times, but it is perhaps the only element that makes an otherwise dull routine special. The alternation of current events and flashbacks evokes the feeling that stories about drugs are basically interchangeable and often repetitive – but after a while all these passable ideas are forgotten, undeveloped and leaving behind only the aftertaste of unfulfilled potential.

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