3 Stars – Thought-Provoking
There is no feeling more helpless than watching your child descend into hell through the addiction to drugs. Such is the story of one father who tries everything to save the beautiful son he raised through a loving childhood, yet who by his teenage years became addicted to life-robbing substances.
Based on the true stories of father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy shares the agonizing and desperate life-sucking experience that drugs create in the lives of everyone in the family of an addict. David Sheff (Steve Carell) is father to three children, teenage Nic from his first marriage, and two small children from his second family. Like any loving father, he relishes the time he spends with his young children playing sports, travelling together to memorable places, and hugging them as he sends them off to bed at night.
Nic Sheff (Timothée Chalamet) is both charming, and yet like many young men, struggling with his own sense of self. His experimenting with drugs and alcohol is not uncommon, but it certainly exemplifies the risks this creates. Chalamet, who at 23 years of age has already been in two academy award nominated films, gives another Oscar-worthy performance that drains your emotions to the point of tears. To see the struggle he goes through, even to the edge of death, is agonizing.
For anyone who has reached the recognition that there is nothing you can do to save the child you love, it is heartbreaking. To reach the point of being willing to let your son or daughter die, is an utterly helpless feeling. Yet, it may be the only point where you can stop the madness as you let your child make these decisions on their own.
Beautiful Boy is not easy to watch, but it is as true-to-life as any film I know about addiction. There are many other choices that someone might have made along the way that could have possibly made a difference, but they are not portrayed in the film. There is little to suggest that the family had any supportive family or group of friends around them, nor is there any portrayal of a depth of spiritual or emotional support throughout their lives.
This is a film that parents and some teenagers should see. It is a sobering reminder that the choices we make in life that seem harmless, can sometimes last for an eternity.
The decision to use substances are often made when a person is still a child without the wisdom or maturity such a decision requires. How do you think we can do a better job protecting children from using?
Most of us know families where one or more children have become addicted to some form of substance or behavior. How have you tried to be supportive to that family? What did and did not help?
Many would say our culture encourages drug use. Do you agree? Why do you answer as you do?