film re­view

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BeAu­Ti­Ful Boy (Felix Van Groenin­gen) stars Steve Carell and Ti­mothée Cha­la­met in a decades-span­ning story about a fa­ther try­ing to un­der­stand his son’s strug­gles with drug ad­dic­tion. It’s a movie that tries very, very hard to be au­then­tic and pure and true, and that’s the prob­lem: it won’t stop try­ing. You can feel the cal­cu­la­tion in ev­ery cam­era setup where the ac­tors face each other in con­trived still­ness, in ev­ery sound­track cut that in­structs us how to feel about a given mo­ment. Based on the mem­oirs of both David and Nic Sheff, Beau­ti­ful Boy fol­lows ex­actly the same tem­plate as ev­ery other film about a fam­ily deal­ing with ad­dic­tion: the par­ents of­fer ad­vice and un­der­stand­ing as the kid pushes them away, cy­cling through re­hab and re­lapse and putting ev­ery­one through hell. This is the first English ven­ture for Van Groenin­gen, whose Bel­gian fea­tures The Mis­for­tu­nates and The Bro­ken Cir­cle Break­down are mas­ter­ful, richly emo­tional works; here, it’s as if he’s work­ing from a rigid blue­print he can’t quite un­der­stand. 120 min. NN (Nor­man Wilner)

Ti­mothée Cha­la­met (left) and Steve Carell go through the mo­tions in Beau­ti­ful Boy.

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