Few films capture the visceral effects addiction has on the body, mind and spirit better than Felix Van Groeningen’s (“Belgica,” “The Broken Circle Breakdown”) latest release, “Beautiful Boy,” starring Oscar-nominated actors Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher,” “The Big Short”) and Timothée Chalamet (“Lady Bird,” “Call Me By Your Name”).
The film opened the 54th Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) Oct. 10 to a sold-out show, with Groeningen in attendance.
Based on the memoirs by David and Nic Sheff, played by Carrell and Chalamet, “Beautiful Boy” is a film more so about fatherhood than the horrors of drug addiction. This leaves viewers with a deeper understanding of the term “unconditional love.”
Carell flexed his dramatic chops with a captivating performance as David Sheff, a desperate father seeking a cure for his son Nic’s (Chalamet) newfound addiction to methamphetamine.
After Nic undergoes several consultations and stints in rehab, David quickly realizes he’s helpless in his son’s struggle. He opts to understand Nic and how his condition began, rather than trying to combat the disease plaguing his everyday life.
Carell and Chalamet share tremendous chemistry in the few scenes they share, allowing the audience to watch them grow apart, then ultimately closer than they ever were before.
The scenes alternate from past to present and include strange yet efficient cuts and splices. This creates several overlapping narratives that take place simultaneously, detailing Sheff’s childhood and adolescent life.
The raw nature of the film creates a beautiful tension between father and son and denatures their relationship into something far more powerful. The film’s take on drug addiction is atypical, depicting Nic as much more than a meth junkie. He’s a brother. He’s a son. He’s David’s beautiful boy.
Other films premiering at CIFF include Joel Edgerton’s “Boy Erased,” starring Lucas Hedges, as well as “The Favourite,” which is slated to appear in the Oscars “Best Picture” category, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Several independent releases such as the Chinese drama “Ash is Purest White,” which has a perfect 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, screened Oct. 12. First time director Chad Tapestra’s riveting documentary “Father the Flame” also screened Oct.12, it chronicles the history of the tobacco pipe through interviews with those closely associated with the craft.
CIFF is scheduled to showcase more than 150 films throughout its 12-day runtime at AMC River East (322 E. South Illinois St.). Tickets can be purchased online at www.chicagofilmfestival.com/festival/tickets, and more information can be found at www.chicagofilmfestival.com.
“Beautiful Boy” is now playing in select theaters nationwide.