When it's over, Beautiful Boy is not beautiful, at least not the subject matter, but certainly beautiful as a work of great independent filmmaking. It is not a feel good film, and you will not walk away feeling refreshed. It is honest, realistic, and deeply depressing, leaving you feeling empty and disconnected. It is a bold film that touches on headline issues and matters of the heart without ever losing focus. Bill (Michael Sheen) and Kate (Maria Bello) are on the verge of separation when they discover their 18 year old son has orchestrated a shooting at his school and has taken his own life. Much like the film, We Need to Talk about Kevin (2011), this film addresses the aftermath of the tragedy and its ripples on individual lives and a community. It asks painful questions such as: How do you go on? Where do you begin? Who is at fault? What did I do wrong? Bill and Kate attempt to answer these questions by reaching within themselves as the uncertainty begins. What I find most interesting about this film is that it uses an unthinkable tragedy to bring two people together, to make them face their fears and shortcomings. Director Shawn Ku takes this poignant angle and never loses sight on the story’s direction, which is the intimate lives of two people in a sea of emotional chaos. Sheen and Bello dig deep into their characters to make the audience believe. Solid, solid, solid performances. They make the characters incredibly real, and I am hinged on their every action and emotion. There are no happy endings, but it is not completely hopeless. Whether the characters continue to drift apart, or decide to come together, the viewer does not know. In fact, I do not think the film even knows, but that is not the point. Beautiful Boy is about moving forward, continuing on with life, even when it seems impossible.
My rating: 4 out of 5
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