Beautiful Boy at Dallas Film Festival 2011

I honestly don’t know how I let Beautiful Boy fly under my radar during the festival. I was privileged with the opportunity to cover the red carpet and attend the US premier of the film and let me just start by saying WOW.

There have been several films and documentaries since Columbine about school shootings, taking a look inside the shooter’s life, the aftermath of the shootings, the list goes on.  However, no one has ever taken the opportunity of showing how the family of a shooter has to deal with this incident and the issues both emotionally and physically they must face.

Kate (Maria Bello) and Bill Carroll ( Michael Sheen), are in a rocky marriage on the verge of separation, when they are hit with the life changing news that their son, Sam (Kyle Gallner), is responsible for a mass shooting at his college before committing suicide. His Parents are forced to leave their home and seclude themselves from the rest of the world until they are strong enough to face the harsh reality. During this time, their marital troubles begin to taking a back seat due to the traumatic and life altering situation. During the next  hour and a half, we  witness through their eyes, the struggles they must endure to find refuge from scrutiny from both the media and the public, while having to deal with the loss of their only child.

By far this was the most emotional film I experienced at the festival. Bello and Sheen’s performances are something that can not be described. Their emotions are so real and convincing you almost start to believe the events are unfolding right before your eyes and you are experiencing the pain and agony along with them. Bello portrays a very believable grieving mother and the disbelief she goes through trying to convince herself that her son was a good kid and he would never do such an heinous crime.  Sheen’s father role is the complete opposite of Bello’s. He tries so hard to stay strong and be there to comfort his wife, however, his emotions eventually get the best of him and he ends up breaking and blaming himself for the crime his son committed. Also in the film is one of my favorite actor’s, Alan Tudyk, who plays Kate’s brother and Moon Bloodgoodas Tudyk’s wife. Both do a phenomenal job of showing how extended family is also affected by the events and how their young son is teased and ridiculed by other children because of his cousin’s actions.

The sequence of events is done at such an appropriate pace that you really begin to feel for these parents and what they are dealing with. The film does an outstanding job of showing the timeline of events. Cops coming to ransack Sam’s room, Media camped outside their home, talk shows and news outlets commenting and releasing footage left by Sam, all the way to people leaving horrible messages on his social network page and vandalizing Sam’s grave site.

In my honest opinion, Beautiful Boy has Oscar potential written all over it and I would be very surprised if it was not nominated. The film is an emotional roller coaster of events that every parent hopes to never have to endure.

Directed by Shawn Ku, who is also the co-writer along with Michael Armbruster, Beautiful Boy is set for a limited release May 20th with hopes of a national release soon after.

Rating: Controversial situation that ventures to a side of a tragedy that has not been done.  Emotionally riveting and worthy of a perfect rating.  (10/10)