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Beautiful Boy: We Need to Talk about Methamphetamine

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Timothée Chalamet has been at the forefront of every Oscars conversation and teenage fever dream since Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name. Fittingly, his latest role is the eponymous Beautiful Boy. It's an amalgamation of two books, addiction sufferer Nic Sheff's Tweak and his dad David's Beautiful Boy, and therein lies the problem. Condensing one book is hard; combining two is a mammoth task.

We're left with a skin-deep screenplay that jumps between moments in the hopes of catching a heartstring. Nic's college experience is condensed into five minutes: unpacking, reading Bukowski poems in a seminar and kissing a girl. Beginning through his father's perspective, we're distanced from Nic's suffering. The feeling is of Harry Potter embarking on his adventure to Hogwarts, only to stay behind with the Dudleys. Losing the insight into David's thoughts and anxieties that existed in the book means the drama is reduced to Googling 'How do I help my son who is on drugs'. Nic's nadir, a moment of realisation that he's lost control, is experienced through a phone call and a long shot of a waiting room. From there, we cut to an evidently magical bike ride from which we discover Nic has been a year sober.

For its outrageous gaps in time, the film is peppered with flashbacks, each a rose-tinted moment of father-and-son love intended to help us invest in Nic and David's relationship. We have no insight into what led Nic to the place he's in. Instead, the film works on turning on the waterworks, with moments of, 'This is so sad... Alexa, play Nirvana,' and several sunset car rides signifying 'freedom'.

Beautiful Boy is well acted, but that's dulled by tepid direction and tame storytelling. I'm sure there's a good story in there somewhere. In fact, there are two and they're already books. Go and read them instead.

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