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film review

Oakley Bull as Daisy Sheff, Maura Tierney as Karen Babour, Timothee Chalamet as Nic Sheff, Christian Convery as Jasper Sheff, and Steve Carell as David Scheff star in Beautiful Boy.Francois Duhamel

Beautiful Boy

Directed by Felix Van Groeningen

Written by Luke Davies and Felix Van Groeningen

Starring Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell

Classification: 14A; 120 minutes

Rating:

2 out of 4 stars

I walked into Beautiful Boy prepared to bawl. The addiction drama was pitched in trailers as an intense chronicle of one father, journalist David Sheff, and his battle to save his son, Nic, from drugs, based on two memoirs (one from the dad, the other from his offspring).

Yes, bring on the tissues. But there is a strange emotional detachment to Felix Van Groeningen’s adaptation, which renders the tale needlessly cold.

Perhaps it is the director’s consistently jarring musical choices, including selections both hammy (Sunrise, Sunset) and just plain odd (there’s a long scene scored to a facsimile of Hans Zimmer’s bwah-bwah-bwah work for Christopher Nolan, which suggests a thriller that’s happening somewhere else, certainly not on-screen).

The editing is also needlessly jumpy. All the wrong decisions end up smothering strong performances from Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet. Make no mistake: You will leave Beautiful Boy sad, but just not for the reasons you may have expected.

Beautiful Boy opens Oct. 19 in Toronto and Vancouver