Provokr Pick: Beautiful Boy

Steve Carrell and Timothée Chalamet Star

BY: Zak Wojnar; Editor Claire Connors

Traditionally, men don’t express their feelings; instead of crying and sharing tender moments with people we love, we tend to grind our teeth, develop ulcers, pick fights with strangers, and get kicked out of bars at noon. We can be macho and stupid. How our significant others put up with our nonsense will forever remain a mystery.

That being said, our favorite movies tend to be stories of fathers and sons, our one emotional weakness. Gather a group of men together to watch the 1979 remake of The Champ starring Jon Voight and Rick Schroder, for instance, and the tears will well up past our breaking point. We cry ugly at that film. It’s that combination of fleeting machismo and paternal bonding, all within the framework of a sports film, from which we just have no defense.

While not a sports movie, Beautiful Boy looks like it’s set to make men cry tears of love for their sons, and to make sons cry for their fathers in equal measure. They will be manly tears, but tears nonetheless. Based on the true story of David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy is adapted from their respective memoirs; David wrote Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction, and Nic wrote Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines. Both memoirs cover Nic’s struggle with methamphetamine addiction through the perspective of father and son, respectively.

Steve Carrell made his bones as a comedic actor – roles in Anchorman and The 40-Year-Old Virgin made him a star, to say nothing of his performance in The Office – but has spent the last few years developing his dramatic potential; from Foxcatcher to Battle of the Sexes, Carrell has proven himself to be the type of actor who will go to whatever dark places a role may take him. This skill will surely come in handy for his next film, Vice, in which he plays President George W. Bush’s infamous Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

Meanwhile, Timothée Chalamet came out swinging with a game-changing role in Call Me By Your Name, for which the now 22-year-old actor was nominated for an Academy Award. A favorite of Greta Gerwig, he appeared in Lady Bird, as well as her upcoming adaptation of Little Women, which is not to be confused with the recently-released adaptation starring Lea Thompson, which updates the setting to the modern day; Gerwig’s take will be more faithful to the original story, retaining its 1860s setting.

Together, Timothée and Steve are dramatic fire, and their performances have been praised for being grounded in reality, rather than succumbing to the old Hollywood style of hands-in-the-air overacting and melodramatic monologues with more grandeur and gravitas than Shakespeare in the Park. Too often, performances like those in Beautiful Boy are overlooked at Oscar time in favor of grandstanding performances which draw attention to themselves, rather than serving the film at hand. Fortunately, most cinephiles are well aware that the Academy Awards (and all awards shows, for that matter) are little more than, in the words of George C. Scott, a “meat parade” for an industry with disposable income to pat itself on the back with self-accolade. Of course, we still adore the showmanship of The Oscars, but there’s a lot more to loving movies than only paying attention to the films that take home golden trophies.

Regardless of prospective Oscar buzz, we recommend seeing Beautiful Boy. The cast is impressive, the story is heart-wrenching, and the source material is universally adored. Don’t skip this one. Take your father. Or your son.

Beautiful Boy is in theaters now.