This past month saw the release of the biographical drama "Beautiful Boy" starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet. The film follows Chalamet's character as he deals with drug addiction and the strain (and opportunity for growth) it puts on his relationship with his father played by Carell.
The film is based on the memoirs "Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction" by David Sheff and "Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines" by Nic Sheff. Chalamet's character, Nic, is a teenager who appears to have everything a teenager could ask for. He has good grades, is the editor of his school newspaper, an actor, an artist, and an athlete.
But behind all of that, he's seriously abusing drugs, most recently meth. Seeing this tears his father apart and Carell's character, David, sends him to a rehab facility. And after a painful stay, he gets clean and sober. Only to come crashing down months later when at his girlfriend's parents' house, he finds a bottle of pills and slowly relapses, getting to a point where he eventually purchases crystal meth using money his father sent him.
"Beautiful Boy" is an honest and heartbreaking look at the reality of addiction. It doesn't always take one try and then you're good. In fact, it almost never takes only one try. It's an extremely painful process comprised of relapse after relapse. "Beautiful Boy" chronicles the extent to which someone so young will go to feed an addiction.
Beyond giving viewers a look into the reality of relapse and recovery, "Beautiful Boy" also gives a new face to drug abuse and addiction that is seriously neglected in the media. The most commonly portrayed images of addicts paint a picture of a hardened criminal on the streets asking for money to buy drugs or alcohol. The truth is, the face of addiction is changing and this portrayal does nothing but perpetuate the stigma behind addiction, a diagnosable disease.
Young people can become addicts. Privileged individuals who seemingly have everything can become addicts. Someone that looks like Nic with a loving father like David can, and do, become addicts. Addiction can be shooting up heroin, addiction can be taking pills, addiction can be drinking too much.
Addiction does not discriminate.
A film like this has the potential to change the first thing that comes to mind when we think of addiction. It's a heartbreaking and harrowing story of relapse and recovery and it speaks truth to the power of love and resilience. If we pay enough attention, this story might change some lives.