Beautiful Boy is a story that most every person that I know personally is going to have additional connection with, and in this day and age, a lot of others will too. It is a film that offers insight into something that a lot of us have probably not really thought about.
We are introduced to a Bill, played by Michael Sheen (Underworld, Frost/Nixon), Kate, played by Maria Bello (A History of Violence, World Trade Center), and their son Sam, played by Kyle Gallner. We are given the hint at marriage troubles, but nothing is flat out said. Sam is away at school, and we can see that he is struggling with something, as he is on the verge of tears when he calls his parents, who know nothing of his troubles and only offer standard college parent advice. The following morning, all over the news are reports of a suicide shooting spree at Sam’s school. Later that day, Bill and Kate are met by police at the door, bearing the bad news. But there is more; Sam was the shooter.
The film continues to show Bill and Kate’s struggles as they try to live after an inexplicable tragedy.
Sheen and Bello really hold down this film, their emotion, sadness, confusion, frustration, and fright are palpable. They are playing a role not ever done before, and it gives one possible example of what such lives would be like, and its not pretty.
The movie itself is sort of frustrating, as for the parents, answers won’t be found for why such a thing would/could happen to them and their child. We are also left without answers, to questions like “Did we do something wrong?” and “Was there something we didn’t do?”. Director and co-writer Shawn Ku presents these questions, but no real conclusion is drawn. I do like the usual camera style of such personal movies, a hand-held-esque shot.
It is hard not to call it predictable, because it is not a story that is supposed to have twists or unexpected things happen. You should know that going in, because the story is really a straight shot. Once you understand the premise, you’re pretty much given the whole movie. It ends with a glimpse of happiness, but only a bitter one.
I know that some people reading this could have issues with what message is sent in this movie, whether it be that people that perform these school shootings should have our empathy, or that all kids that are quiet and un-involved are capable of such things. If you do decide to watch this movie, I ask you to try not to take too much away from it, and approach it with an open mind. It is, after all, only a movie, designed and aimed to entertain us and allow us to feel differently than we normally would. I really did enjoy the film, and I would recommend it even to people who know this kind of tragedy as well as I do.
3.0 / 4.0 – Beautiful Boy is a different viewpoint on an unfortunately common event, school shootings, and their effects on the parents of the culprit. Although it goes along how everyone probably thinks it does, the movie presents it in a good fashion.