What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this intense, deeply moving drama deals with a horrific tragedy: the aftermath of a shooting spree at a college campus. A character is shown wielding a gun, and there are plenty of references to the actual shooting, though there's little actual gore. Still, plenty of psychological wounds are on display, and the subject matter can be quite upsetting/disturbing, especially for younger viewers. There's some swearing (including "f--k") and scenes showing a couple making love (a woman's breast is briefly glimpsed) and getting drunk to forget their pain.
What's the story?
Their marriage already in tatters, Kate (Maria Bello) and Bill (Michael Sheen) are pushed further to the brink when they learn that their son, Sam (Kyle Gallner), has died during a horrific shooting at a college campus. In fact, he was the gunman. How can they recover from a tragedy like that? It's incredibly difficult, what with the media glare blinding them, the well-meaning relatives who are seeking answers that Kate and Bill themselves don't hold, and the crushing guilt, shock, and grief they feel as they try to make sense of it all.
Is it any good?
BEAUTIFUL BOY takes viewers to the heart of darkness with its memorable portrait of a couple in crisis. Rather than creating a cinematic car wreck at which audiences would be ashamed to gawk, it's sensitive, wise, and painful beyond most measures. The account it offers -- what happens to the parents of the people who commit such tragic crimes? -- is valuable, challenging us to question the sometimes-paint-by-numbers view we get in the news of the people who hurt others in such spectacularly harrowing ways. The film especially works because of the leads, Bello and Sheen, who commit to the anguish completely.
Is Beautiful Boy a perfect movie? Not at all. Sometimes it explains too much and works too hard to conjure tears. (We are left spent.) It also tries too hard to arrive at a semi-neat explanation behind what may have moved Sam to commit such an act. But is it affecting? In a despondent, melancholic way, yes.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the movie portrays family relationships. Are the characters and their interactions believable? How does the film's central violent act affect them?
Parents, talk to your kids about violence in schools: How can they stay safe? Can incidents like the one in the movie be prevented?
How do you feel about the way the movie handled the tragic shooting at the center of the plot? Was it depicted sensitively in light of similar real-life events? How does the media typically address this kind of violence?