Beautiful Boy: a Must See Movie for Parents

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The official movie poster for Beautiful Boy.

Last night, my daughter and I went to see Beautiful Boy, a film about a family dealing with their son’s meth addiction. Based on a real-life father/son story, the script is a melding of two memoirs: Beautiful Boy by writer and columnist David Sheff, played by Steve Carell, and Tweak by the addicted son, Nic (Timothée Chalamet).

Beautiful Boy is an emotionally difficult movie for any parent to see. Although I haven’t gone through anything nearly as hellacious or dramatic, I related to the parents’ anguish. I realized how strongly I want to make everything okay for my kids when they’re experiencing pain. As hard as we want to control situations and can see what the best choices are, in the end, it’s all up to them. We can’t live their lives for them.

What I found especially poignant, was Carell’s flashbacks to his young innocent son and the many memories he had of their close relationship, interspersed with gritty scenes of finding Nic soaking wet and high in a San Francisco alley or overdosed in a hospital.

Directed by Belgian director and co-writer, Oscar nominated Felix van Groeningen, I loved the acting by Carell, Chalamet, Amy Ryan as the first wife and mom, and Maura Tierney as the current wife and mother of two younger kids. The soundtrack and cinematography were integral to the experience, which will haunt me for years. I cried when I heard Sunrise Sunset, a song from Fiddler on the Roof performed by Perry Como, which I played on the piano as a young child. The soundtrack includes artists Neil Young, John Lennon, David Bowie and Nirvana.

There are uncomfortable scenes of drug use, near deaths, and the horror experienced by Nic’s parents. It’s an important movie because drug addiction is epidemic throughout our country, regardless of money, race or gender. Overdose is the number one cause of death in our country for those under age 50.

Here’s an excerpt from the Hollywood Reporter with interviews with Carell and Chalamet:

At the U.S. premiere of Beautiful Boy at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Carell said his most challenging scene was a more tender one, in which David receives a desperate call from Nic but chooses not to help him get sober again. Whether from lack of hope or lack of strength, David tells Nic that he’s on his own.

“I think that goes against every fiber of every parent’s being,” Carell told The Hollywood Reporter of the scene that has the character crying on a couch at home. Carell said having two teenagers “absolutely” shaped the way he viewed the script, saying, “I don’t think you ever stop worrying about them until the day you die.” Through his performance, he realized having no ability to keep your kids safe and healthy has to be “the scariest thing of all.”

Chalamet likes that Beautiful Boy isn’t a tragic story, nor a glorious story. The addiction tale is told from a “total perspective,” based on the best-selling memoirs of father and son David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy and Tweak, respectively.

“That encompassed addiction in a contemporary sense, in a way that I just hadn’t ever read anything like that,” Chalamet told THR. “Movies or books that I’d been privy to prior that dealt with the subject matter felt like they lean into the tragedy of it or into the glory of it somehow.”

Here’s link to John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy” written for his son Sean. 

Lyrics to Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) by John Lennon:

Close your eyes
Have no fear
The monster’s gone
He’s on the run and your daddy’s here

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way, it’s getting better and better

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we’ll both just have to be patient
‘Cause it’s a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes, it’s a long way to go

But in the meantime
Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way, it’s getting better and better

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Darling, darling, darling
Darling Sean

Songwriters: John Lennon

Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) lyrics © Downtown Music Publishing

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