Why You Need To Watch Beautiful Boy


The Movie

Beautiful Boy is a 2018 American biographical drama. The movie, based on the memoirs Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff and Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff Written by Luke Davies and Felix van Groeningen was written by Luke Davies and Felix van Groeningen. It deals with a father-son relationship increasingly strained by the latter’s drug addiction.  The film focuses on both the personal consequences of drug addiction, but also the impact on the domestic role in said person’s life. Through the movie, the audience see both Nic (son), and David’s (father) perspective on Nic’s addiction as he goes from relapse, survival to recovery. It provides a necessary realism, and thus an anti-glorification of drug use. For being such a taboo topic, the script is honest, simple and beautiful. There are no exaggerations nor judgements of drug use, instead the audience gains a broader idea on the journey that those who suffer go through, and the support needed for those experiencing this. Candidly I share that I have in the past judged those who struggle with addiction, but this movie made me open my eyes to the effects it has on a person. Growing up I always learnt ‘don’t do drugs!’, ‘don’t buy drugs’, ‘your life will be ruined’, but you never learn about the toll drug addiction has on friends, families and loved ones. Having both Nic and David’s side of the story allows the audience to better relate to their journey even though they might not have faced drug use or addiction themselves. For me, although I have never faced this or known somebody who has, I am still able to relate to Nic; throughout the movie he faces this immense guilt, and hates disappointing his father and family, which I am sure many youths can understand. The script itself is one of my favorites, and I continuously think about the dialogue and my favorite quotes from it, such as “This is me Dad here, this is who I am”, “This isn’t like cancer, I put myself here”, “To mourn the living, that’s a hard way to live”, and “Have you seen my son? Have you seen my beautiful boy? Tell him I miss him.” The closing of the movie is one of my favorites; David has come to the realization that he cannot help Nic, only Nic can help Nic and explains to his ex-wife “I don’t think you can save people Vicki”. Beautiful Boy is one of those movies that makes me laugh, sob, and has a lasting impact on you. This movie will make you think about addiction in a different light, and comprehend what those who face this go through. The real Nic Sheff is now 10+ years sober, and both him and David worked closely with the actors to tell their story. 



Felix van Groeningen (born 1 November 1977) is a Belgian film director and screenwriter, who attended Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) and graduated in 2000 with a Masters of Audiovisual Arts, his master’s thesis was the short film 50CC. When interviewed at the Zurich Film Festival he claimed “When I read the books, they opened my eyes and how I in the past had looked upon people struggling with addiction, and sort of judged them, and how I was wrong to do so. I wanted to create a place of empathy for people who are struggling with addition”. Another reason I loved this movie is the honesty from Van Groeningen. Like mentioned, I have judged those in the past and he has too, however this movie allowed that perspective, misconceptions and false beliefs to change, and I think that that is what a good movie should do. 


Filming techniques

Another reason this movie is so influential and dynamic is the use of filming techniques throughout. The movie uses music to suggest periods of heavy drug use and flashbacks. “Beautiful Boy” uses non-linear storytelling, intercutting frequent flashbacks — sometimes very brief, sometimes longer — in the fact-based tale of a dad (Steve Carell) dealing with his son’s (Timothee Chalamet) drug addiction and rehab. Despite the multiple flashbacks, the audience are not confused and are still able to follow Nic’s journey. Timothée Chalamet who plays Nic, is also played by three other younger actors whose goal is to explain Nic growing up, but also allow insight into David questioning his actions as a father. The song Territorial Pissing by Nirvanna is one of my favorite scenes in the entire movie, when young actor Jack Dylan Grazer playing younger Nic is enjoying singing this in the car with David. During the scene it cuts from David and Nic having fun driving around when Nic was younger, to David driving around looking for Nic when Nic has copious amounts of drugs in his system. Another one of my favorite songs used is Beautiful Boy – John Lennon which portrays times of reflection. 



Both Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell are incredible actors, and their performance in this movie is one to be appreciated. As an actor it can be intimidating taking on the role of a real person as it is your responsibility to tell their story. Despite this, Timothée and Steve’s performances are authentic, compelling and raw. Timothée went through a transformation, losing 18 pounds for this role, which not only highlights his commitment as an actor, but also his desire and responsibility to truly portray what addiction looks like and the emotions behind it. Their talent allowed this movie to be so realistic as it created an accurate illustration of a family struggling with drug addiction. The authentic performance by Timothée about not wanting to disappoint his father and family allowed me to relate to his character. Van Groeningen says of Carell. “The movie was also financed thanks to his attachment. Steve is an incredible actor, known for comedic work, of course. But I was blown away by his Foxcatcher role, and part of who he is in real life overlapped with how I saw David as a character.”  Timothée explained that “It is a really beautiful thing  to be meeting the people you are playing with, and to just tell them you hope to do justice to it, and it is really about finding the truth of the story of addiction, and how it can take its toll on family and loved ones”. Nic Sheff claimed that “Timothee wanted to understand the physicality of a drug addict, and what the emotions were that I was feeling so I was very comfortable giving my story to him to tell”.


Beautiful Boy is the type of movie that is sensitive, eye-opening, yet has a powerful, meaningful message and true story. I personally believe, especially amongst my generation or young, there is some sort of glorification of drug use and self destruction. There is this idea that these real struggles are almost an ‘aesthetic’ which I think is due to the rise in social media. However, like mentioned this movie does the opposite of that. No judgments. No exaggerations. No glorification. Just realism. Drug use really is a silent killer. The combination of phenomenal acting, cinematography, and filming techniques makes for a great film to watch for aspiring young artists. Even if you have not faced drug addiction, I cannot stress enough how impactful this movie has been on me. Whether you just want something to watch, can relate, or are taking me up on my recommendation please spare time to watch this.


Official Trailer