My beautiful boy: Steve Carell to the rescue of Timothée Chalamet [Critique]

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Beautiful Boy Timothée Chalamet Steve Carell
Amazon / Metropolitan FilmExport

A great melodrama around addiction with Steve Carell as the father of Timothée Chalamet struggling with drugs.

To wait until the exit of Dune (September 15) and The French Dispatch (October 27), fans of Timothée Chalamet will be able to find him tonight on Canal +, which is broadcasting for the first time My Beautiful Boy, a nice film also worn by Steve Carell, released in theaters in early 2019. Here is our review.

Denis Villeneuve – Dune: “Timothée Chalamet has the charisma of a rock star”

In three consecutive films (The shit of things, Alabama Monroe, Belgica), the Belgian Felix Van Groeningen has established himself as the inspired portrait painter – and music lover – of dysfunctional families sucked into the black holes of atavism and addiction. Follower of total cinema, euphoric and plumbing, trivial and mythological, deconstructed and narrative, FVG is also distinguished by its love of American culture, evident through its characters of Flemish rednecks fans of Roy Orbison in Merditude… or bluegrass in Alabama Monroe. There was no doubt that this man was not going to limit himself to the lowland for long. Things didn’t drag on. During the campaign for the 2014 Oscars (where Alabama Monroe competed in the Best Foreign Film category), he was approached by representatives of Plan B, Brad Pitt’s production company, who submitted the project to adapt David and Nic Sheff’s memoirs to him. Story of a father’s fight to save his son from drugs, Beautiful Boy: A father’s journey through his son’s addiction seems to have been written for the Belgian director, so many swarm his obsessions for the family ties tested by the misfortunes from which they emerge different but reinforced.


Recognized journalist, remarried and father of two young children, David Sheff cherishes for his eldest son, Nic, a special and reciprocal affection. He also has custody of it. How could this loving father ignore the slow decline of his favorite offspring? Addicted to methamphetamine (or “crystal meth”, an over-the-counter nasal decongestant which, taken in its pure form, is an XXL psychotropic drug) since he was 12 years old, Nic has become an outsider. A pathological liar, a certified mythomaniac, an outstanding manipulator. As transparent and quick to disappear as a ghost, he digs his own tomb and makes the lives of those close to him hell. At first incredulous, then overcome by guilt, David will react. He is the hero of the film, the one who gives it its color: it is here less a chronicle of addiction (as could be Requiem for a Dream, for example) than its consequences; collateral damage and the search for solutions that it implies. In this sense, David Sheff approaches Judge Wakefield, the character of Traffic of Steven Soderbergh, brought to put on the warming blue to help his junkie daughter. But if, in the test, the arrogant Wakefield gains in humility, Sheff, him, must force his benevolent nature to rise to the height of stakes requiring grip and lucidity. Praise of paternity in its most mythical aspect (Sheff is Orpheus descending to Hell to recover the loved one), My Beautiful Boy sits on the broad shoulders of Steve Carell, whose role as a determined and hurt father echoes the one he held in the recent Last Flag Flying by Richard Linklater. Men of integrity whose value system will collapse in the light of the inquisitive gaze cast by society on their imperfect children. Facing Carell, Timothée Chalamet, a pale and sickly junkie, impresses with the maturity of his game, far from the excesses of his model Leonardo DiCaprio in Basketball Diaries.


True to his kaleidoscopic style, Van Groeningen does not tell this story in a linear fashion. The back and forth, skilfully balanced between past and present, between happy days and dark hours, infuse a stubborn melancholy in the film, which seems to run after its own resilience. The director does not make crates either, aware of having to address a wider audience, perhaps less receptive to his collages bordering on abstraction. The temptation of lyricism is definitively evacuated by the use of an intradiegetic music which dialogues more with the inner impulses of the characters than with the specific musicality of the film. Fans ofAlabama Monroe may be a bit disappointed to see FVG settle down to this point, but we have to admit that substance takes precedence over form. The last shot of the film, admirable of restraint and emotion, testifies in this regard to the certainty of the choices of the Belgian director whose next project we are impatiently awaiting.

From Little Miss Sunshine to Last Flag Flying, Steve Carell is dramatically funny

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