"Beautiful Boy" review: a heartbreaking story of survival, relapse and recovery

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

By Monserrat Solis, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Beautiful Boy is based on a true story of a family coping with addiction that hits theatres October 12. 

Beautiful Boy starring Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet, directed by Felix Van Groeningen, takes on drug abuse and the chilling reality of a parent’s worst fear, based on the best-selling books by David Sheff and his son Nic Sheff.

The film follows the chronicles of David struggling to control his methamphetamine-addicted son, Nic, and how far a parent’s love will travel for their child. It shows his desperation as he tries to save Nic from a life on the street and help him rehabilitate.

Showing Nic at a care-free young age to his rebellious stage where he starts smoking pot and finally hits bottom, fuels the trial and revelations of a father trying to make sense of his son’s downfall. While researching a cure for his son’s addiction and trying to ground him back to life, he starts to lose him. Forcing Nic into rehabs only drives him further into the darkness. 

After Nic runs away from home, David drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for him but instead finds a young woman who is a runaway addict. While sitting with her at a diner David sees his son in this girl, realizing his son may be a lost cause but still wanting to search for him. Eventually, he finds him and the toxic cycle of rehab and relapse starts over again.  

This film will make you angry, smile, and break down into tears all at the same time. Because of the sensitive nature, the story becomes a painful reminder for anyone who has watched someone they love struggle with substance abuse but, in a strange way, is still relatable to those who haven’t experienced that kind of heartbreak. 

Thought of as taboo, addiction is not something people openly discuss but it is about time we sit down and talk about this global issue. Along with normalizing a conversation on addiction, Beautiful Boy leaves you feeling emotionally drained because of the heavy content.


Coming off from the high of Call Me by Your Name, an Oscar-nominated film, Chalamet shows off his acting skills in his performance as an addict. Playing a role that is assumed to be mentally draining, Chalamet told Vanity Fair he lost 20 pounds for the film. Chalamet perfectly portrayed a struggling teen, trying to follow the standard college path but finds himself straying and it breaks your heart. Every step of the way is tragic because that’s the reality. Addiction is not pretty and it is not easy to battle.  

Carell who played David presented a devastatingly frantic father trying his best to keep his family from shattering. The desperation of a parent who does not want to see their child suffer is evident in Carell. The waves of denial and acceptance that his son might be lost forever strain in your heart.


According to americanaddictioncenters.org, around six percent of the American population had tried meth at least once in 2015 and its use remains high in the U.S. Normally, people would think addicts are the people camping on the street but in reality, they are all around us. 

Most importantly this film shows that families are going through the same situation; they are not alone and is, in a way, reliving to know this hardship is shared by families all around. Addiction can happen to anyone and any family, even a seemingly perfect one. 

The film will be available in select theatres on Oct. 12, everywhere else Nov. 9, and will be available on Amazon Prime in 2019.