Nic Sheff was full of prospects, a talented artist and writer, he was even accepted into all six of the colleges that he applied for, but there was something else inside him. He described it as a black hole – an emptiness that needed to be filled. Nic began to fill that hole with substance abuse, gradually getting into harder drugs, fuelling an addiction that spiralled out of control.
Beautiful Boy is Nic’s story. But, it’s also the story of his father David Sheff, who tried his best to help his son through his addiction. Directed by Felix Van Groeningen, the film is a touching adaptation of the best-selling memoirs by David and Nic. With Steve Carell (The Office) and Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name) starring as the father and son duo, they play the part so convincingly, it’s almost surprising they aren’t the real deal.
Peppered through with memories of Nic as a boy, we get to know his childhood, which really hits home that this could happen to any family. Timothée Chalamet conveys the complexities of Nic’s experience admirably, the darkness as well as the light shown stunningly through his nuanced performance. Steve Carell’s performance is equally as touching, as we witness him struggling to understand and to father Nic during it all.
The film is an honest and brutal portrayal of addiction, with it highlighting the real harshness of Nic’s addiction. David is completely out of his depth with his son’s drug problem. That feeling of helplessness and regret is captured perfectly by Carell with a little piece of him wearing down every time that Nic relapses. But, it’s also a film of hope, showing how a family can truly unite in times of hardship.