Beautiful Boy review: The chilling reality of addict recovery

Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carrel star in the movie which tells the cold, real-life story of addict recovery.

Adapted from the memoirs of father and son, David (played by Carrel) and Nic Sheff (played by Chalamet), the film follows crystal meth addict Nic as he struggles to overcome addiction and remain sober.

Carrel and Chalamet are joined by Maura Tierney, who plays Nic’s stepmother Karen, and Amy Ryan who plays his estranged mother, Vicki.

While the film could be mistaken for a feel-good, father-son bonding, recovery story on first watch of the trailer, it is much more. It is a realistic telling of the twisted, hole-filled journey to recovery with no Hollywood sugar coating.

From the opening scene where Carrel tells an expert that he has learnt his son is a meth addict, it is clear there will be no fluffed up details or drug addict clichés.

As Nic completes various stints in rehab, relapses and lies to his family about being sober, he becomes increasingly aggressive, anxious, desperate and illogical.

Credit @amazonstudios on Twitter

At the same time as being aware of his irrational behaviour, mood swings self-deprecation, Nic sees no way of filling the dark hole inside himself that drugs can fix.

Chalamet steps into the role of Nic flawlessly complimented by Carrel’s often quiet and hopeless, but determined portrayal of his father, David.

The film details the emotional trauma that addiction can cause for parents, siblings and friends. Freelance journalist David begins by researching as much as he can and doing everything to help by the book.

As the film progresses and Nic continues to relapse, he comes to the realisation that there might not be a way to help him anymore.

Credit @amazonstudios on Twitter

The portrayals of his behaviour are not always pleasant to watch, and often leave you angry or disgusted at his difficult decision to not help his son, but shows the rollercoaster of emotions that parents of addicts experience.

In one scene, David and his wife attend a meeting for parents who have lost their children to addiction. A grieving mother sits in front of them and explains that she was grieving the loss of her daughter, even before her death.

Despite low moments where he feels helpless, David never fully gives up hope for his son’s recovery.

The idea of blame is hinted at throughout, with almost every character questioning themselves and their actions with flashbacks to Nic’s childhood to emphasise significant events.

Nic sharing a marijuana joint with his father, being sent on a plane to visit his mother in LA, and David concerned he has lost his son at sea while surfing all play a significant part in the questioning of Nic’s motives.

While it would be easy to point the finger at one individual, the film follows the idea that addiction isn’t that simple and not one person is to blame.

The real-life Nic and David Sheff were a large part of the movie’s production, consulting on the script and meeting with the actors to explain the different sides of their story.

Now sober, Nic is a writer and has worked on a host of popular TV shows including 13 Reasons Why and The Killing.

Their memoirs and joint literary works tell the harrowing story of Nic’s recovery. Their focus now is to bring awareness to addiction as one of America’s biggest killers and the need for more support.

Beautiful Boy is out in cinemas now or can be streamed through Amazon Prime.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there is help available.

Have you watched Beautiful Boy? Let us know what you think on Twitter and Instagram to start a discussion. 

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