I’m sorry but Felix Van Groeningen‘s Beautiful Boy (Amazon, 10.12) just lies there. It does a good job of pretending to be alive and human as far as the drug-addiction genre allows, but it has no pulse, no campfire-tale hook, no currents that pull you along.
Based on a pair of best-selling memoirs by journalist David Sheff and his son Nic, Beautiful Boy is a sensitive, well-intentioned, steady-as-she-goes saga of meth addiction. But the decision to tell the tale from the elder Sheff’s perspective, or that of Steve Carell‘s mopey-dope performance, was lethal. Because Carell is boredom personified here; ditto the other grim-faced adult characters played by Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan, Timothy Hutton, etc.
The only thing that could have saved Beautiful Boy would have been to shift the POV to Timothy Chalamet‘s Nic — to follow the lead of Otto Preminger‘s The Man With The Golden Arm by sinking into Nic’s secret subterranean life of copping, shooting, evasions, lying, low-downing and evading the law, etc. As is, the camera rarely buddies up with Nic and his girlfriend Lauren (Kaitlyn Dever) and their scumbag pallies, and the sense of fatigue that comes from hanging with dull-as-dishwater Carell becomes oppressive. And then numbing.
I was inwardly screaming last night as I sat in my balcony seat alongside Dave Karger and several other journos. HE mantra: “I’m dying…I’m sinking into boredom quicksand.”
Who thought that making a movie out of these books would be a good idea? This movie is going to expire and disappear so quickly it won’t be funny. Dead, dead, deader than dead.
Yes, Chalamet (whom I ran into at the Soho House after-party…”yo, bruh!”) is very convincing as Nic — he’s a highly skilled and charismatic actor who digs right in — but all you can feel as you’re watching the poor guy is pity. Because he’s trapped in a dull movie, and the only thing that can save him in this context is for the movie to fucking end.