"Marriage Overcomes Madness"
What You Need To Know:
BEAUTIFUL BOY contains powerhouse performances, but it’s extremely slow and often emotionally exhausting to endure. That’s too bad because the mother and father are churchgoers who eventually do reconcile. However, the movie’s Christian elements are marred by too much foul language and a fairly graphic bedroom scene when the couple reconciles.
(C, FR, LLL, V, SS, NN, AA, M) Solid Christian worldview with protagonist couple being churchgoers and one scene in church of pastor briefly speaking about forgiveness but mother misquotes 1 Corinthians 10:13 (“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”), which is about temptation unto sin, to give it a more psychological meaning, and movie is a complex exploration of grief and guilt, with foul language, of how parents of a Columbine-style mass murdering young adult might react after learning of their son’s atrocity, plus nephew bullied at Sunday School; about 21 or more obscenities (mostly “f” words, including three shown written on a Facebook page, with a few “s” words and “a” words), plus at least five mostly strong profanities; light violence includes news reports speak repeatedly of a shooting massacre that the main couple’s college-age son committed on his campus, father catches an intruder in his dead son’s room rummaging through his possessions and yells at him before briefly choking him against the wall then letting him go, father later wakes up in a hotel room covered in bruises he can’t remember getting; married couple have fairly graphic sex scene, but it’s in reconciliation after a long time of emotional coldness; brief upper female nudity in sex scene and upper male nudity in sex scene as well as two other non-sexual scenes; casual drinking throughout at meals, but a pair of scenes shows the main couple drinking a lot of alcohol and the husband drinking more on his own; no smoking; and, breaking and entering and many verbal arguments and one push of the wife by the husband, but couple reconciles with each other and movie implies true marital love can attempt to overcome anything.
BEAUTIFUL BOY is a complex drama exploring the different ways in which a couple of parents might react to the news that their college-age son is a mass murderer. While it contains powerhouse performances by Maria Bello and Michael Sheen as the couple goes from silent concern to screaming matches and back again, the movie is nonetheless extremely slow and often emotionally exhausting to endure.
Sheen and Bello are an average suburban couple with a son living away from home on a campus as college sophomore. While the movie admirably doesn’t exploit the son’s rampage against his fellow students onscreen, this approach leaves the movie flatter than it should be. Along the way, the movie shows the couple move out of their home and into the wife’s sister’s crowded house as the extra family is also now confronting the suffering. Viewers also see the husband lose his job due to the emotional strain of his son’s actions and then beg his way back into his job, only to find his coworkers staring and talking about him.
Bello as the mom alternates between trying to be emotionally “perfect” and being obsessive compulsive about many aspects of her and their lives. The couple is shown in church in one passing scene, listening respectfully to a pastor as he is about to discuss a Scripture related to their need for forgiveness. [SPOILER ALERT] The husband is accused of being emotionally distant, but, by the end, the couple realizes that as much as they fight (including a raw shouting match in which the father screams “I wish we’d never f-ing had him” about their dead son), they ultimately want to do the right thing. The wife decides to stay with her husband, and they move back together into their house, despite the painful memories of their son.
BEAUTIFUL BOY offers an ultimately positive portrayal of a marriage enduring one of its worst possible crises: the fact that their son committed a mass murder before committing suicide with his gun. It’s hard to imagine, however, the average moviegoer not being bored with the movie’s incredibly slow, methodical approach, where many scenes blend from being intriguing to almost pointlessly slow. If anything, it’s the kind of movie viewers might appreciate on Netflix much more than paying full price at the movie theater. That said, BEAUTIFUL BOY has a solid Christian worldview overall, but it’s marred by too much strong foul language and a married sex scene with brief nudity.