Kurdt’s review published on Letterboxd:
As good as Chalamet is, it’s Steve Carell who is the star here. Rarely have I ever seen a performance of a parent that glowed with so much love for their child without it feeling heavy-handed. His emotional highs and lows, and how he wrestles with the different ways to try and help Nic is most impressive - at times doing everything he can to be near him and comfort him, while at others having to try the complete opposite, such as having to tell your own son over the phone that no, he can’t come home. The dynamic between he and Nic is the only thing that this film really needed to work for it to succeed, but I also love how Karen, Nic’s step-mother, is also as much of a loving parent to him as his biological mother and father. For her to care that much for someone that initially arrived in her life as potential baggage, to drive after him in that one scene, was just a great example of how family can really come from anywhere. This is admittedly sounding a little corny, which the film itself is anything but, but I guess it just shows how much this whole thing worked for me on an emotional level. It never felt like a drugs PSA and its elliptical, non-linear storytelling really helped paint a tangible canvas of this normal family having to fight off the demons that have invaded their lives and burrowed under their skin.
A small criticism I initially had was that it always seems like addicts in movies are an artistic type. A hidden genius that, if only they could get their life together, could achieve great things. This becomes less of an issue when you realise the story is true and based on two books written by the two men themselves. But I could still do without the “parent looks in child’s diary” scene, which always seems to be depicted poorly in film.
Although many of these drug films have somewhat of a similar storyline, Beautiful Boy is one that to me felt genuine, and was not desperately trying to capture a sense of verisimilitude in order to claim itself as the most authentic of these kinds of films. It just exists, without judgement. There’s no real ending, just a father and son sitting together, and a loop that will never truly be closed.