Beautiful Boy Movie Ending Explained (In Detail)

Spoilers Alert:

It is the second drug drama in a short time – and it slightly surpasses the strong “Ben is Back”. In BEAUTIFUL BOY This time Steve Carell looks for his addicted son until he finally threatens to perish due to his own helplessness. We reveal more about this in our review.

The Plot Summary

David Sheff (Steve Carell) is a kind and loving father who seems to have done everything right with his wife Vicky (Amy Ryan). When her son Nic (Timothée Chalamet) becomes addicted to drugs, David can’t believe it, he can’t stop it, and he’ll do anything to get his son back. As he wrestles with Nic’s lies and breaches of trust, the film continually looks back to the Nic he once was – a considerate, wonderful boy.

Movie explanation of the ending

Just a few weeks ago, Julia Roberts fought for her drug-addicted son in USA cinemas. “Ben is Back” is the name of the grueling thriller drama, which in the first half focuses on a mother’s domestic battle against her boy’s addiction and in the second half even takes it out openly on the street as both of them face demons in search of their dog have to face their past. In Felix Van Groeningen’s “Beautiful Boy” the life of an addicted teenager also hangs by a thread, this time held by his father Sheff, who fights like a wild animal to protect his flesh and blood from the final fall. It is not the first time that the Belgian Felix Van Groeningen has dealt with emotional depths. In his deeply moving cancer drama “The Broken Circle” he confronted his audience with the worst manifestations of what a human being is capable of feeling. This time it’s also about parents who are afraid for their children. Once again it’s about an almost insurmountable opponent: cancer turns into drug addiction, but helplessness remains. Here Felix Van Groeningen is in his element and completely takes the side of the father, who has to watch his child fall deeper and deeper until at some point not even his own parents can – and don’t want to – catch him anymore!

Nic (Timothée Chalamet) and his father David (Steve Carell) enjoy Nic’s addiction-free time.

No matter whether “We Children from Bahnhof Zoo”, “Trainspotting” or “Requiem for a Dream” – in most films that deal with the topic of addiction, the addicts themselves are the focus. This focus is initially understandable. Ultimately, the best way to illustrate the consequences of addiction is to show the physical and psychological damage that users suffer. What this means for the environment is often only marginally discussed. But after “Ben is Back”, “Beautiful Boy” is now the second film in a very short time to shift this focus. The title itself suggests this: “Beautiful Boy” is not only called “Beautiful Boy” because David sang John Lennon’s lullaby of the same name to his son as a child, but also because the father still recognizes this beautiful boy in his boy, or at least tried to – it’s the thoroughly subjective perspective of a desperate parent. It also fits that over the course of the 121 minutes it was primarily Steve Carell’s (“Foxcatcher”) David is an outstandingly authentic person who is undergoing character development. While Nic remains an addict from beginning to end, whose phases of being clean are always short-lived, his father goes through the entire spectrum of being an outsider condemned by the situation to keep still and silent, who initially clings to every straw of hope , before he finally resigns and then finally realizes that he simply cannot help his son and that he actually has to help himself.

Due to the focus on the father’s perspective, you don’t get much of scenes like this, which are usually standard in other drug dramas. The viewer rarely experiences Nic and Timothée Chalamet’s inner conflict (“Call Me By Your Name”) passionately expressed, actually through active consumption. The consequences of this often only become apparent when he seeks contact with his father. As a result, “Beautiful Boy” has a level of heaviness that is quite to be expected in the genre. The film is still emotionally gripping; especially as events come to a head. As in “A Broken Circle”, Felix Van Groeningen, who works together with Luke Davies, pushes the issue (“Lion – The Long Way Home”) also wrote the screenplay based on a double biography by David and Nick Sheff, this time too there was no clear happy ending. The author even shied away from answering all the questions – and ultimately hit the nail on the head. Only a final text panel about how bad the situation in the United States is in terms of treatment places for drug addicts places parts of the events in an accusatory direction. Otherwise, the reasons for Nic’s drug addiction remain open, as do personal backgrounds from the private life of the Sheff family (why did Nic’s parents actually separate and was that perhaps the trigger for his addiction?) or the fates of some of the supporting characters who appear in the film. But Van Groeningen doesn’t make things easy for himself; on the contrary. It is simply not important for the status quo what made the main character an addict – and ultimately in real life it is not the case that gaining knowledge in this regard would automatically lead to a solution The helplessness of the parents is underlined once again.

Back on the street, Nic immediately gets his hands on drugs again…

In terms of narrative, “Beautiful Boy” is beyond reproach. Anyone who wants to experience an authentic and emotionally hard look at the world of drug addiction, which reflects not the addict himself but the desperate outsiders, will find Felix Van Groeningen’s film an even better candidate than the one that is much more lurid in the second half Ben is Back by Peter Hedges. “Beautiful Boy” just doesn’t always please in the details of the staging. Especially in the first three quarters of an hour, the film jumps back and forth in a temporally uncoordinated manner, which unnecessarily complicates the plot, which is actually structurally moving in a clear direction. Every now and then you even lose track of the time period in which the screen events are taking place; a classic case of over-ambition. Another (and also the biggest) point of criticism is the use of music. Whether theatrical chorales, ballads that provide a very clumsy lyrical background to the action, or menacing, booming tonal sequences – in “The Broken Circle” music also played a decisive role in the narrative, so that its intensive use rounded off the production. In “Beautiful Boy,” on the other hand, far too often she simply tells the viewer what she is feeling at the moment, depriving him of the opportunity to discover it all for himself. After all: Felix Van Groeningen hits the mark just from the selection of songs – so he has good taste in music.

Conclusion: Felix Van Groeningen’s drug drama “Beautiful Boy”, told from the perspective of the father of an addict, has two clearly identifiable weak points: an intrusive musical background and an unnecessarily jumpy narrative style. But at some point all of that no longer matters at all, as the equally authentic and highly emotional story overwhelms you until you no longer experience the last 15 minutes in a sea of ​​tears.

“Beautiful Boy” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from January 24th.

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