Sure, it’s bit Hollywoodized; the masculine beauty of Timothée Chalamet is never diminished, even as his teen Nic is ravaged by crystal meth. But this uncompromising drama is honest and unpretty where it counts: emotionally, particularly in its focus less on the addict than on his family’s coping. Based on real-life father-and-son memoirs, this is more the tale of Nic’s journalist father, David Sheff (Steve Carell), as he struggles to support his son the best he can. The inescapable tragedy here, the awful conclusion that David comes to, is that sometimes there simply is nothing you can do to help someone you love, and that there is nothing and no one to blame for addiction except the quirks of brain chemistry. Carell is absolutely heartbreaking in a spare, tough performance, one about keeping fear under tight rein lest it get the better of him, while Chalamet is full of helpless fury and fragile vulnerability. The film may be sleek and smooth, but the authenticity here is in the empathy, in the struggle to understand an issue that is too often dismissed as a matter of personal weakness.
Director: Felix van Groeningen
Producer: Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner and Nan Morales
Cast: Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan, Timothy Hutton, Kaitlyn Dever, Andre Royo and LisaGay Hamilton