Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Beautiful Boy, the film

Meant to post this yesterday, but Monday got away from me.

On Saturday I got to see the film produced by my former student, Lee Clay, titled Beautiful Boy. It is a lovely feature film written by Shawn Ku and Michael Armbruster and directed by Ku. The film stars Michael Sheen (Underworld, The Queen) and Maria Bello (History of Violence, ER) -- two fot he hardest working actors in film and TV. The film is an intimate view of a couple who discover that their only son committed an act of violence and then killed himself.

The film is not about the violence or sensationalism of the act, nor about the media frenzy or placing blame. It is about a couple on the verge of divorcing who, because of a terrible, unexpected event, are forced to rediscover who they are individually and as a couple. Beautiful Boy focuses on the actors--including a small group of supporting actors--and on the intimacy of the relationships.

I expected to either cry or find it melodramatic, but instead I was moved by the strong writing, acting, directing, and production values of the film. It is a "small" film by Hollywood standards (made for something like $750K), but honest and simple. The moving camera at times irritated me, because it cut off my ability to witness reactions or continue focusing on the actor-character without acknowledging the director (man behind the camera)--this is a contemporary convention of younger filmmakers, and I am willing to be done with it. I know there is a person behind the camera, but frankly, I don't need to see you to enjoy your craft and creativity in the film. I think it calls attention to the wrong thing and just makes me jittery.

That said--I recommend Beautiful Boy. Limited release June 3 (NY and LA), opening on wide platforms through October (new terms I learned!). This is a film for adults, folks, not teens.

And, yes, in part I am thrilled because it was my student (go, Lee!) who produced it--but he, Michael, and Shawn came to meet my students last Friday and so generously spent three hours answering questions, chatting, and simply being delightful. It is great to see your students grow up and do you proud.

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