BEAUTIFUL BOY Movie Review
In terms of love stories, BEAUTIFUL BOY is not your conventional fare. In fact, it’s a rather dark film that spends most of its time trying to find light…but that’s what makes it so unique.
Beautiful Boy focuses on a married couple that seems predetermined for separation. Workaholic businessman Bill (Michael Sheen) and proofreader Kate (Maria Bello) are already sleeping in separate rooms and at the end of each other’s rope, but are driven into turmoil upon learning the news that their son, Sam (Kyle Gallner) has initiated a suicide rampage at his college, killing several students as well as himself.
The school tragedy plays out much like the horrors of the infamous 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, but the film’s big focus is how Sam’s death affects the two main characters. The movie really finds its heart with a heavy and emotional pull: as the characters move through the healing process, the movie follows that same path, leaving nothing hidden from the viewer. As such, we are treated to anguish that leads to outbursts, obsessive compulsive actions, even a night of desperate sex – the decisions and emotions of Bill and Kate are presented to the audience, allowing the film to use the grief portrayed in order to show the humanity these characters possess.
Maria Bello is impressive as Kate, and brings a certain amount of raw tension to her role as a mother who can’t quite seem to gain control despite her “put together” attitude. As Bill, Michael Sheen is equally impressive with his portrayal of a grieving father struggling to keep his emotions from his estranged wife. They are both able to switch back and forth between quiet conversation and irrational anger, without making the audience feel like the reactions are overdone. Because of this, there are some truly excellent moments for the actors, often occuring when Bello and Sheen are between rage and conflict. With a lack of music to add to the somber mood, most of your focus is on the characters and the dialogue which helps bring you into the folds of the film and the journey of Bill and Kate.
Other stand-outs of the small cast include Alan Tudyk as Kate’s brother, Eric and Moon Bloodgood as Kate and Bill’s sister-in-law, Trish. Although underused, their purpose in Beautiful Boy is clear – they provide lightheartedness, allowing the viewer a quick reprieve from the dark and somber mood.
The screenplay has its moments, as some of the scenes seem slightly overwritten, but the actors are able to make even the most over-the-top moments believable. And while the ending of Beautiful Boy is quite frankly neither satisfying nor tidy…neither is a healing process.