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Beautiful Boy

The harrowing tale of a father trying to save his son from a meth addiction is currently in theaters.

Alissa Wilkinson covers film and culture for Vox. Alissa is a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.

Metacritic score: 64

Based on the bestselling memoirs by David and Nic Sheff, Beautiful Boy is the story of a father (Steve Carell) who finds himself increasingly helpless as his bright, charming young son (Timothée Chalamet) struggles with a meth addiction that transforms him into an unrecognizable monster — one who steals from his younger siblings, lies, drags others into his drug use, and disappears, over and over again.

The details in Beautiful Boy follow the same broad strokes as those outlined in both David and Nic Sheff’s memoirs, though some of them have been understandably smoothed out to make the cyclical addiction-recovery-addiction-recovery chain easier to track within the span of a two-hour movie. The result is a beautifully made and complex rendering of a father and son’s relationship that ends with too little hope to fit into people’s “inspirational movie” box. But at its best, it’s a strong rendering of both the horrors of addiction and the frayed rays of hope that sometimes break through. It’s not easy to watch, but it is, in its own way, still beautiful.