Beautiful Boy

(2010)

Genres: Drama

Review: Beautiful Boy

Transcript for Review: Beautiful Boy

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY:
In our next film, BEAUTIFUL BOY, Martin Sheen and Maria Bello play a married couple who are on the verge of separating after two decades of marriage. The only thing they have in common is their son, who’s a college freshman.

CLIP 2 / “Hey Stranger”
 
And then one morning their son takes a gun to school and opens fire on a classroom full of students.
 
CLIP 4 / “Did we do something wrong?”
 
Sheen and Bello hole up—first in her brother’s house, then in a cheap motel—and find themselves needing each other more than ever as they try to come to terms with their son’s actions.
 
CLIP 1/ “We messed him up?”
 
Grief, anger and guilt—these are some of the most difficult emotions to tackle, but for the most part, BEAUTIFUL BOY tries to take the easy route. Sheen is a generic movie workaholic. Bello is a copy editor who takes on a young novelist's first book at the start of the movie, but we never get a sense of why or how she works. Their son, as well as the other family members that appear in the film, all feel like napkin sketches. Sheen and Bello manage to create a few raw moments of strong, real emotion in this movie, but they're few and far between. What we're left with is a story about a relationship that sometimes feels real between two people who never do.  Thumbs down.
 
CHRISTY LEMIRE:
Thumbs down for me as well for all the reasons that you say.  This feels like a made for cable movie, like something timely, like here’s a school shooting and here’s how this normal suburban couple deals with it.  But they’re not drawn out at all, neither is the son and nor are his motivations.  Perhaps, it’s intentonal to allow us to project whatever we want onto them, but the effect becomes “We just don’t care, we don’t get engaged.”  We don’t feel compelled by them at all.  Like, why feel for their struggle if they’re not even real people?
 
IGNATIY:  
Yeah, I mean, I understand kind of the reasoning for making the son severed because it’s really more about their marriage then it is about the son.  But, at the same time, that has the effect of making their marriage seem incredibly vague.  We don’t really understand why these people have been together and although there are these almost cathartic moments where Sheen and Bello kind of break through; they manage to make it feel kind of raw and real.  For the most part, the movie feels kind of contrived.  It’s very opaque.
 
CHRISTY:  
But even those moments where they do have these great emotional breakdowns where they really tear into each other, I hate the way they are shot.  Because there are all these swish pans and all of these needless zooms, and it’s intentionally really artsy.  You know, those times when it is just an eye and part of hair, and I think it detracts from what is innately a very dramatic moment.  You have some really strong actors here doing some really raw work.  And it gets all muddled up with the way it is shot.
 
IGNATIY:  
Yeah, the color pallete is very anemic. You know it’s very drained of any color except for like gray and blue
 
CHRISTY:
Yes, right.  It’s beige, very very beige.  
 
IGNATIY:
And the film itself is drained of emotion.
 
CHRISTY:  
I agree.