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Beautiful Boy

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Felix van Groeningen is the contemporary master of the melodrama. In BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN Groeningen focused on a young couple whose child has cancer and their love that crumbles because of it. The lighting, the music, the non-irony with which van Groeningen tackles grief, love, and despair: no one had a dry eye at BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN – at least not in the screening I was at. BEAUTIFUL BOY isn‘t a crying film, but it also builds up an emotional space filled with a lot of intensity. The beautiful Timothée Chalamet (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME) plays Nic, an almost adult teenager, and Steve Carrell plays his father, journalist David. When Nic playfully offers his father a joint and admits to trying a few things out when asked, everything still seems under control. But shortly after it turns out that Nic has been taking a lot of drugs for a long time and has gotten caught up wih crystal meth. An odyssey begins that makes us hopeful only to be disappointed followed by a new glimmer of hope. Nic goes to rehab, breaks it off, disappears, reappears, studies, crashes, steals money, seems clean. And then it starts all over again. Van Groeningen interweaves his story in constantly flowing, dazzling moments following different time periods. The present in which father David tries to find ways to help his son, the recent past when Nic is about to graduate from high school, and the distant past when Nic was a carefree child. The past doesn‘t add up to a linear narrative, which is often the case. They accumulate into one, into David‘s emotional space who, when looking at this son, can‘t tell the present and the past apart, he sees everything at once: the child, the teenager, the adult, the hopes for the future, the failures of the past, the beloved son, the destructive junkie. Breath-taking.

Hendrike Bake (INDIEKINO BERLIN)

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

USA 2018, 112 min
Language: English
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director: Felix van Groeningen
Author: Felix van Groeningen, Luke Davies
DOP: Ruben Impens
Montage: Nico Leunen
Distributor: NFP
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Steve Carell, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan
FSK: 12
Release: 24.01.2019

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