Maria Bello and Michael Sheen deliver some Beautiful acting.
BEAUTIFUL BOY (Shawn Ku). 100 minutes. Opens Friday (June 17). See listing Rating: NNN
The capable debut of director Shawn Ku, Beautiful Boy is a drama about an unassuming suburban couple (Maria Bello and Michael Sheen) on the verge of separation who learn their son (Kyle Gallner) has gone on a shooting spree at his school.
It's primarily an actor's showcase, with Bello once again displaying her incredible range as she copes with the waves of grief, denial and rage. Sheen, working outside his comfort zone (and with an American accent), plays the more pragmatic of the pair, who's coming apart just the same. Supporting turns by Alan Tudyk and Moon Bloodgood are nicely drawn, too.
The problem's in Ku and Michael Armbruster's script, which is mired in predictable plot points and revelations that are meant to surprise but don't quite land the way they should. There's really only one way this story can unfold, and Ku and his actors follow that structure straight down the line.
Beautiful Boy isn't a bad movie, just a very familiar one. Given the contentious subject matter, we shouldn't always know precisely what the characters are going to do five minutes before they do it.