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Beautiful Boy First Reviews: An Authentic, Powerfully Acted Portrait of Addiction

The first review from Toronto say this true-story drama is a difficult watch, but full of top-notch performances.

by | September 8, 2018 | Comments

Word out of the Toronto Film Festival is that Timothée Chalamet could be looking at his second Oscar nomination in a row. This time the young actor is portraying a real-life addict, while Steve Carell plays his father in a performance that’s also mostly receiving praise. As for the movie around this stellar acting, Beautiful Boy is currently Fresh at 82% with just 11 reviews, and it sounds like a powerful and upsetting drama that will affect much of its audience, but it may not garner much additional awards attention outside of the acting.

Check out what the first round of critics are saying:


How powerful is Beautiful Boy?

Scrupulous and tenderly wounding — a drama that seizes and holds you. It’s a compelling movie whether or not it happens to speak to you personally.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

In doggedly aiming to portray this unbearable pain with rare authenticity, it has a raw, haunting power.
Benjamin Lee, Guardian

[It’s] one of the most essential films that could exist right now.
Matt Goldberg, Collider


Is it an overwhelming experience?

It’s all too much sometimes, but it’s an undeniably wrenching journey.
– Steve Pond, The Wrap

Almost too much like real life: an impressionistic series of highs and lows, relapses and recoveries, without the necessary anchor of a cohesive arc.
– Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

To Van Groeningen’s great credit, he doesn’t simply make Beautiful Boy a nonstop parade of tragedy. This isn’t Requiem for a Dream.
– Matt Goldberg, Collider


Amazon Studios

(Photo by Amazon Studios)

What about Chalamet’s performance?

[He] so embodies the tragic struggles of a drug-addled young man it’s a wonder he made it through the production.
Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Fantastic… I wouldn’t be surprised to see him nab a best supporting actor nomination.
– Benjamin Lee, Guardian

His performance feels both exquisitely calibrated and utterly lived in; alternately sweet and addled, furious and catatonic.
– Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

He continues to be one of the most exciting young actors working today.
– Matt Goldberg, Collider


And Carell’s performance?

A marvelously sensitive, largely quiet tour de force.
– Steve Pond, The Wrap

Carell’s acting is urgent, imploring, silently haunted.
– Owen Gleiberman, Variety

The role makes sublime use of Carell’s unshakable likability – you feel his desperation, and his desire to make this into something he can control.
– Jason Bailey, The Playlist

[Makes] the best of a rather underdeveloped role.
– Jordan Ruimy, World of Reel

Carell puts his everyman talents to their best use.
– Matt Goldberg, Collider

Carell feels out of his depth. In quieter scenes, he’s serviceable but when conflict arises, he’s rather shrill and ineffective.
– Benjamin Lee, Guardian


Amazon Studios

(Photo by Amazon Studios)

Does the rest of the cast measure up?

Amy Ryan plays David’s ex-wife and Nic’s mother, Vicki, with a concerned testiness that results in frequent clashes, and Maura Tierney plays Karen, his second wife (they have two younger children), with a gravity that roots every scene she’s in.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Amy Ryan and the supporting players are all top-notch.
Jason Bailey, The Playlist


What are the movie’s problems?

The emotional rollercoaster ride is only observed, never felt.
– Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

[It] wallows in grief with a borderline sadistic intensity. With lesser performances, it would crumble under the manipulative weight of unearned gravitas.
– Eric Kohn, IndieWire

It’s hard to imagine the movie, based on both Sheffs’ memoirs, working at all without Chalamet.
– Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

Its emotions felt hardly earned.
– Jordan Ruimy, World of Reel

The movie lacks a certain emotional electricity.
– Owen Gleiberman, Variety


Try to stick through it, though:

If one stays with it all the way to the end, it is absolutely worth sitting still for the end credits.
– Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter


Beautiful Boy premiered on Friday at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it opens in limited release on Friday, October 12. Read all the reviews for it here.

#1

Beautiful Boy (2018)
67%

#1
Adjusted Score: 83157%
Critics Consensus: Beautiful Boy sees Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell delivering showcase work that's often powerful enough to make up for the story's muted emotional impact.
Synopsis: Teenager Nicolas Sheff seems to have it all -- good grades, editor of the school newspaper, actor, artist and athlete.... [More]
Directed By: Felix van Groeningen