Last year, Timothée Chalamet stole every viewers’ heart in Luca Guadagnino's Call Me By Your Name. That same year, he starred as the bad boy in Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird. Every entertainment consumer waited anxiously to see what big project the heartthrob would do next.
When it was announced he would play a teenager struggling with a methamphetamine addiction, it was clear Chalamet wasn’t going to be a typecast in his career. Based on his filmography, he wanted to tell people he could do anything — and in Felix Van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy, Chalamet does just that.
Beautiful Boy is based on the pair of memoirs from Nic (Chalamet) and David Scheff (Steve Carell). David, Nic’s father, struggles to cope with his son’s addiction, while Nic tries to relieve himself of a disease that plagues many people in the U.S.
Chalamet puts all of himself into the performance. At times it’s scarier than any horror movie. With overdoses now being the for Americans under 50, the film is now more relevant than ever. Every time Nic took a needle and eased it into his arm, it was easy to look away from the screen to not see the horrors of chasing the next high.
For David, he didn’t see those horrors first-hand. He didn’t see his son using drugs, but he suspected. As a journalist, he used his researching skills and source relations to gain information on addiction. He sat at the computer for hours and even bought some cocaine, until he wrote all of his experiences down on paper that later became his memoir.
No one could have played the part better than Carell, whose dad-like sincerity allowed for easy connection with his character. Everything David felt was beautifully portrayed through Carell and delivered to the viewers. As he looked at his two younger children and their perfect innocence, he wondered how Nic could have been like him and grown up to become whom he is now. David is sent into a spiraling life of conflicting feelings: He still loves his child, but how can he when he doesn’t recognize the person standing in front of him? Carell’s caring and genuine nature paired with Chalamet’s emotional and guttural interpretation make for a dynamic movie focused on the performances of lead actors.
The film doesn’t quite explain the inception of Nic’s addiction, which is poetic in a way. It’s as if it’s hard to pinpoint the start. Like he woke up one day, decided to try meth and found himself craving it. Through every “it’s different this time” and “I promise I’m going to get clean,” the audience hopes it’s true, until Nic relapses.
The film doesn’t present addiction in a cut-and-dry way. The whole film is just snapshots of David’s and Nic’s lives. It’s like the camera was rolling on different parts of their lives and the audience was watching as it happen. It’s a raw way to tell the story of such a raw subject matter. The film isn’t meant to give answers to why people get addicted to drugs. Instead, the medium is used as a way to show addiction can’t fully be explained.