Beautiful Boy

Tonight Odeon had something they call ‘screen unseen’. In essence, what this is, is a surprise screening of an upcoming film, that they believe it’ll be a 5* future classic. The intrigue that accompanies this (combined with the fact the tickets were almost 1/2 price a regular ticket) encouraged me to explore this avenue tonight. And I’m glad that I did. 

However, I have to begin by mentioning that I’m not entirely sure why I’m quite so glad. There wasn’t a great deal in the film that I found involving or engaging, I don’t necessarily feel like connected to the 2 main characters (a surprise as a Father-Son relationship as a subject of a film typically makes me weep), and I really don’t feel that, given the subject matter, there was enough emotional exploration of either the 2 leads. But I did find myself still glued to my seat as Timothée Chalamet recited Charles Bukowski to close the end Credits. 

This is a complicated film. There  is so much that is right, and works about it. The film couldn’t be more timely, as the closing sequence explains, with Drug Addiction affecting more people, both directly and indirectly, in the US than, I believe, ever before. The cast was fantastic, and they evidently have chemistry with each other, as the family relationships are, to a broad extent, very believable. The film is also shot beautifully, for the most part, however there is a reasonable amount of period hopping, which at times  work as, I guess, exposition, however at other times I felt they were distracting and made me temporary lose track. 

The focal issue that I have with the film is that, overwhelmingly, I didn’t experience quite as a film that feels complete. It felt as though a bit more cutting was necessary (while only a 2-hour running time, I did find myself wondering about the time one a couple of occasions), and particularly it felt as though we were seeing the same thing, done in a very similar way, on a number of occasions. This being said, as an adaptation of books written by the lead characters, this is surely just in keeping with the real events.

There were also scenes that felt unnecessary. One scene in particular, between his endless research on the topic of the chemicals Nic (Timothée Chalamet) was putting in his body, David Sheff (Steve Carrell), maybe for research (who knows really) decides to engage in a similar activity. This is not mentioned, or even alluded to, again for the rest of the movie. Is this scene necessary? Perhaps one could interpret this as an expression of a Father’s desperation to understand his son, but frankly, I don’t understand its purpose in the film. 

As I say, contrary to my above criticisms, I did leave glad that I had seen it. Perhaps it was the timely, real-life story. Perhaps it was the cinematography. Perhaps it was the music. Probably it is because it is the story of a family’s struggles, and in particular the strain that addiction and distance can cause on them (and, of course, as I mentioned before, the always affecting Father-Son focus), so for all my misgivings and reservations for the film, I actually ended up rather enjoying it. 

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