Rehab, operating instructions

My Beautiful Boy

Film. Inspired by a true story, Felix Van Groeningen, shows the irreductible love of a father for his addicted son.

By Lisa Muratore. 

Why ruining such a beautiful future ? This is what the powerless David Scheff (Steve Carrel) is asking him while observing the descent into hell of his son, Nic (Timotée Chalamet ) who is addicted to metamphetamine.

This story also evokes the recent Ben is Back with Julia Roberts or on the French-Belgian side Keep Going, with Virginie Efira, as “Mother Courage”. However, Felix Van Groeningen, the Flemish director of The Broken Circle of Breakdown, moves away from the clichés, that we can expect. In fact, he puts a modest look on the uncertainty and suffering endured by a family, while portraying an unconditional love. That’s what convinced Steve Carrel by the way. 

Terribly moving in My beautiful Boy in front of a Timothée Chalamet who mutilated his body with a syringe.

Moving away from the comic characters of The Office and The 40 Year-Old Virgin, the actor stacked drama characters since Foxcatcher, and the recent Welcome to Marwe.  And he is brillant. Terribly moving in My beautiful Boy in front of a Timothée Chalamet (Call me By Your Name, Lady Bird) who mutilated his body with a syringe.

This father thinks he has all the ressources in his hand to help his son getting rid of his addiction : he pays for the detox centers, make him doing drugs tests and even takes cocaine to know the effects it has on his son… However, from rehab to relapse his hope is getting smaller. This repetition is the movement of the film, which shows the breathlessness of a family in a race which is lost in advance. This, is highlighted by the monologue of an addict during a meeting at which David and his wife, Karen (Maura Tierney) attend.

Based on the writings of David Scheff, as on those of his son, the director and his writers, have chosen to alternate points of view. This helps to understand the confusion of everyone. And to reverse the prejudices about drugs. Is the abuse related to a social environment ? Is it the consequence of a trauma ? The movie is not explaining the causes of Nic’s addiction, it prefers to show us the mechanism that had made him moved from recreational use to vital need (as explained in these behind-the-scenes interviews). While the title of the film My Beautiful Boy, a reference to John Lennon’s famous song sung by David to Nic, resonates like a cry of hope …