'Beautiful Boy' Opens Chicago International Film Fest

Lisa Fielding
October 10, 2018 - 2:43 pm

Chicago International Film Festival


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- For Flemish Director Felix Van Groeningen, Directing an English speaking film wasn't always on his agenda.

"This is my first English language film, but I've made five films in Belgium before, one of them 'The Broken Circle Breakdown' was Oscar nominated in 2014," he said.

"This lead me to meeting people in L.A. and Hollywood and thinking about making an English language movie."

Groeningen is from Belgium. He said as a child, he always wanted to be an actor, but when he went to auditions, he felt too shy.

"I realized I'm better off being a director," he laughed.

"Beautiful Boy" is the story of addiction, based on the best selling memoirs of father and son David and Nic Sheff, called "Beautiful Boy" and "Tweak."

Van Groeningen was approached by the producers who bought the rights.

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"I read the books. I met the real life people, I felt an immediate connection to the material. The books were really eye openers for me. They talk very authentically and honestly about their journey, the years of their journey. I found it so inspiring."

The movie stars Steve Carrel and Timothée Chalamet as father and son.

"It's about a family getting through this. I've always been fascinated about father-son stories. The relationship changes between the father and son, how they learn about each other, how they learn about addiction, how their journeys intersect, that is what we had to map out when were analyzing both books to bring it together on the big screen."

Chicago International Film Festival

The film melds narratives to recount nearly a decade of dealing with Nic’s drug and alcohol abuse, primarily his addiction to methamphetamines.

As Nic relapses, the Sheffs are faced with the harsh reality that addiction is a disease that does not discriminate and can hit a family at any time. Van Groeningen said this something many families can relate to.

"It's a journey a lot of parents will have to go through, I think. It talks about parenthood, it talks about being a young person growing up. A lot of people can relate to it for a lot of reasons."

And he said, so far, audiences are reacting with emotion and praise.

"Young people want to go see it with their parents, parents want to see it with their kids. We're very happy with how it's playing and how it's moving people and how people want to share it with people they love.

"I chose this film as a way of giving back. I feel that getting this story out will get more people talking about it, getting the message out about the struggles of addiction."

At its core, Beautiful Boy is a story of "unconditional love," Van Groeningen added.

Beautiful Boy, which had a successful launch at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and opened the Chicago International Film Festival, now goes out into theaters through Amazon Studios. It opens nationwide on Oct.19.