Premiering today at TIFF before hitting theaters October 12, Amazon Studio’s Beautiful Boy details the real-life experience of a fragmented father-son relationship. Based on the bestselling memoirs by father-son David and Nic Sheff, the account details a harrowing experience of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction over many years.
“It was full of themes that I’ve explored in other movies, said director Felix van Groeningen speaking with Deadline about what drew him to the project, which marked the Belgian filmmaker’s English-language feature debut. “The family dynamics. The passage of time. The loosing of control. It was done in such a beautiful, open, authentic way that I immediately connected to the material and the people themselves.”
Steve Carell stars as the kind, loving father who refuses to give up on his son.
“In meeting [David Sheff], what was beneficial was just to know what kind of person he was, the tone, sort of his essence as a person,” said Carell. “He’s very warm and very caring and very loving and all of those things came through.”
Fresh off a banner 2017 year with films like Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name, Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet portrays a young Nic Sheff struggling with a meth addiction. To prepare for the role, Chalamet, referred to the source materials, YouTube videos, as well as “reading as many recovery books as possible to understand the experience of what it is to be away from home, away from your habits, away from your settings… and how that would maybe jumpstart your life in some ways.”
Amy Ryan, who plays Vicki Sheff, hopes this film will offer a more sympathetic outlook on addiction. “If this movie helps to take out the shame of what it is to be addicted, then I just want to be a part of it.”