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Posts Tagged ‘Maura Tierney’

Timothee Chalamet, Steve Carell

“BEAUTIFUL BOY” My rating: B

120 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Drug addiction movies are a bit like Holocaust movies.

Even if the film is well made, the subject matter is tremendously off-putting and depressing. It takes something remarkable, a new way of looking at the topic, to make the painful bearable.

“Beautiful Boy” comes close. It is based on journalist David Sheff’s memoir of dealing with his son Nic’s addiction, as well as a second memoir by Nic.  There’s little emphasis here on the usual tropes of the genre…back-alley drug buys, spoons and needles, withdrawal agonies.

Instead the film puts a parent’s horror and anxiety front and center, and by doing so it forces every viewer — or at least those with children — to question how they would deal with a similar situation.

Coddle? Criticize? Wash your hands of an uncontrollable child?

At various points in Felix Van Groeningen’s film, all those options are examined. And it helps immeasurably that the film stars Steve Carell as the elder Sheff and the ever-resourceful Timothy Chalamet as his tormented son, Nic.

The  screenplay by Van Groningen and Luke Davis cleverly juggles its time frame, opening with a conversation between the deeply concerned David and a drug counselor and then employing a series of jumbled flashbacks to tell the story of this father and son.

A narratively straightforward, step-by-step depiction of young Nic’s descent into depravity might be too much to handle; by zigging and zagging between the family’s homey past and its uncomfortable present, the film offers an emotional buffer between the audience and the film’s inescapable angst.

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John Carroll Lynch, Matt Bomer

“ANYTHING” My rating: C

94 minutes | MPAA rating: R

John Caroll Lynch, the bald character actor whose face everybody recognizes but whose name nobody knows (he was Frances Mcdormand’s waterfowl-painting hubby in “Fargo”), finally gets a shot at a leading man role in “Anything.”

He’s pretty good, but he’s fighting an uphill battle against writer/director Timothy McNeil’s stunningly heavy-handed script.

In the opening scenes things seem to be unfolding effectively.  Small-town Mississippi insurance agent Early Landry (Lynch)  is dealing with the traffic accident death of his beloved wife. The guy has two speeds: stoic and inconsolable.  Small wonder he ends up in the tub with his wrist slit.

His businesswoman sister from L.A. (Maura Tierney), sweeps in to take charge, relocating her Early to her family’s spacious home. But after a period of maladjustment — and a $500,000 insurance settlement —  he rents his own apartment in a rather dicey part of Hollywood.

Here’s where McNeil’s screenplay starts to go off the rails. For nobody within blocks, it seems, leads  anything like a normal life.

The unseen fellow who lives in the downstairs apartment gets boozed up and sings off key all night long. He, too, is mourning a lost spouse.

Brianna (Margot Bingham) spends most of the day sitting on the stoop smoking and awaiting the arrival of her ne’er-do-well musician boyfriend (Micah Hauptman), who cheats on her regularly…and sometimes in her presence. As a result Brianna exhibits a degree of mean cynicism unknown in Mississippi.

But, then, everyone in L.A. is afflicted with a form of sardonic sadism, according to this movie. Compared to the locals Early is as innocent as a baby.

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