- Not many actors seemingly master the craft at such a young age, but the work from Timothée Chalamet (age: 22) here is undoubtedly the exception, who in “Beautiful Boy” channels his best James Dean in an almost scary manner. Chalamet continues to merge seamlessly into any material put in front of him, as here he captures the maddening charisma of “Nic Sheff”. Chalamet transforms his face into a Rorschach test of emotions as he melts from grimace to uncanny smirk as his character seems to have no way of hiding the processes of his shattered brain. Steve Carrell as well turns in a solid performance that might get overshadowed by Chalamet, but shouldn’t. As Carrell delivers a performance that is nuanced in it’s capacity of dramatic stillness and complexity, as he and Chalamet build on each other beat for beat.
- Felix Van Groeningen’s direction is one of interesting facets. Groeningen puts this film under a microscope, while also giving the film a detachment feel. But the detachment at work suggests an attempt at speaking truthfully and to resist the clichés of the addiction story, while also accepting that those clichés can hardly be rewritten as they are oh-so the reality. Though some of the choices he makes can hold the film back, he puts together a film of that is much like the addiction process, one of slow-burn catharsis and stubborn complex authenticity.
- The screenplay by Van Groeningen and Luke Davies brings a father-son story full of an authentic relationship captured in a nonlinear structure. The structure in the film gives an interesting feel, as we follow Carrell’s character’s agonizing self-reflection through his memoires as he questions what he did wrong. The authenticity of the relationship is encapsulated perfectly in the diner scene, where we see Carrell’s character “David Sheff” plead to his son that he “doesn’t know who he is anymore”, as he has transformed into something else right in front of his eyes. This is a film that is undoubtfully one for the parents as it shows all the complexities and facets of parenting, though it is ultimately about identity and the process of parenting through all the highs and lows.
- The cinematography by Ruben Impens is a gorgeous practice of the beauty of naturalism. Impens shows in the most un-showy fashion the beauty of familial memories and unflinching rawness of addiction, while subtly capturing it all in awe-inspiring manner.
- The film’s use of montages can both work and by very vexing at times as well, as it can take away some of the emotion.
- The film’s soundtrack is at times overbearing and also very annoyingly on the nose.