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.