Based on separate, bestselling memoirs by father and son David and Nic Sheff and directed by Felix Van Groeningen, “Beautiful Boy” has its share of powerful moments and more than its share of unrealized ones.
Steve Carell plays David Sheff, a freelance journalist in northern California whose son Nic, played by Timothée Chalamet, is a crystal meth addict. The agony of watching his son self-destruct comes through in flashes in Carell’s performance, and Chalamet is occasionally scary-touching as someone whose addictions have become the core of his being.
But the film is overlong and repetitive and riddled with unneeded flashbacks showing the family in better times. The filmmakers can’t seem to decide if they want to play the blame game – was it Nic’s upbringing, his parents’ divorce, etc., that brought him to this? – or if it's all unexplainable. Whatever the approach, there isn’t enough psychological heft to the drama to make it seem much more than generic. Grade: C+ (Rated R for drug content throughout, language, and brief sexual material.)