Photo - Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment
Dir: Shawn Ku (The American Mall)
Cast: Michael Sheen, Maria Bello, Kyle Gallner, Alan Tudyk, Moon Bloodgood, Austin Nichols, Meat Loaf Aday
Reason to see: Calibre of the cast was enough to get me interested
Beautiful Boy is a gorgeous, weighty drama that has the ability to draw you in even though it deals with extremely challenging and haunting subject matter. It's a film on description alone, I know could scare people away as it follows distanced parents dealing with loss. I'll admit, it initially scared me away but when I saw the casting of Maria Bello and Michael Sheen I thought it could really be something special. And it truly is.
In Beautiful Boy we follow the living together but clearly emotionally apart couple of Kate (Maria Bello) and Bill (Michael Sheen of Frost/Nixon, The Twilight Saga: New Moon), whose son Sam (Kyle Gallner or Red (2008), The Haunting in Connecticut) is away in his first year at college and feeling lonely and unheard. The is an amazing combination of sadness and realness with the portrayal of the characters, how you can see the troubles in their life and fully understand why they'd be overlook as something you wouldn't worry about, something you'd take care of later or something you assume people will grow out of, into or push through. But sometime people don't grow into things, or handle it or push through. Or if they do, the repercussions can be much more than anticipated.
It's amazing how well they deal with the subject matter, and I think that is because there is acknowledgement of the horror of the situation but you always maintain sympathy for the characters. They ask the questions you'd ask but never say, they go the places you wonder if people will go, but always with a sense of truth and respect. The performances really take the film a cut above. Maria Bello and Michael Sheen are formidable, I can't imagine two better actors to live out this journey. I was with them the entire way through the emptiness, the horror, the heartbreak and the kinship of a long-term although distanced relationship. They were truly amazing. I was also very excited to see and enjoyed the performances from the continually impressive Kyle Gallner, plus genre-favourite Alan Tudyk ('Firefly') & one of my favourite Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation, Faster) who play the Kate's brother & sister-in-law.
Every once in a while a film comes around that after watching I know I will highly recommend but due to the subject matter, I know will make people will shy away because it's uncomfortable. But believe me, Beautiful Boy is a film that is worth taking that leap and stepping out of your comfort zone to see. Its tender take on the powerful journey is beautiful and very real. There is a huge weight on the shoulders of the characters but it is thoughtfully presented to the audience. It's a powerful, emotional, real journey that's treated with the utmost respect. I can't recommend it highly enough. Take the journey & see Beautiful Boy.
- Audio Commentary with writer/director Shawn Ku, editor Chad Galster and cinematographer Michael Fimognari commentary is really centred in the Bill & Kate characters and their journeys in the film, from their introduction and weight you feel behind the, touches on the shooting schedule which was a lot of the time chronological, the inspiration behind the film and connection to campus shootings and the very intentional choices around what was and wasn't shown, the character of Sam and the pressure & obstacles on kids, changes to the order of the scenes along the way and how they brought it back together and the themes that carry over the different periods in the film, working with a small & focused cast and crew with small spaces and on an intimate level and how that process was created, supported and impacted by things like rehearsal, long takes and the emotional realness it creates, plus they touch on the experience of screening the film at the Toronto International Film Festival.
- Deleted Scenes (3 scenes, 2 minutes) a few really brief scenes that further show the emotional detachment of the Bill & Kate characters. Great acting and insights into the characters, but the film really gets everything you need already in it although I still enjoyed watching them.
Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I'll watch it again
I highly recommend
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© Shannon Ridler, 2011
Michael Sheen & Maria Bello in Beautiful Boy
Kyle Gallner in Beautiful Boy