Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy

Director: Shawn Ku

Cast: Maria Bello, Michael Sheen, Alan Tudyk

     
 

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A couple struggling with the aftermath of a horrific crime must deal with their own troubles as well as the grief of others in this independent drama. Bill (Michael Sheen) and Kate (Maria Bello) are a married couple who are tightly wound and devoted to their work -- Bill is a businessman, Kate proofreads…  See more details below

Overview

A couple struggling with the aftermath of a horrific crime must deal with their own troubles as well as the grief of others in this independent drama. Bill (Michael Sheen) and Kate (Maria Bello) are a married couple who are tightly wound and devoted to their work -- Bill is a businessman, Kate proofreads books. Bill and Kate's marriage has taken a turn for the worse, and they're on the verge of breaking up when they receive shocking news -- their 18-year-old son, Sam (Kyle Gallner), a college freshman, went on a shooting spree that claimed the lives of several people before he turned his gun on himself. As the news media descends on the couple, Bill and Kate are unable to understand why Sam would do such a thing, and as they struggle to find answers, they turn to family -- Kate's brother, Eric (Alan Tudyk), and his wife, Trish (Moon Bloodgood) -- without being able to resolve the issues that were driving them apart before tragedy struck. Beautiful Boy was the first feature film from director Shawn Ku; it was an official selection at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
We all grapple with both grief and guilt at some point in our lives, but few movies attempt to tackle the complex dynamic between those two emotional states as directly as Shawn Ku's Beautiful Boy. Married couple Bill (Michael Sheen) and Kate (Maria Bello) find they have less and less to say to each other after their only child, Sammy (Kyle Gallner), leaves for his freshman year at college. Kate attempts to organize a family vacation to get things on the right path, but one afternoon she and Bill learn that there's been a mass shooting at Sammy's school. As the news reports slowly release more and more information, Kate grows increasingly concerned that Sammy hasn't answered his phone all day. When police officers appear at the family's door, Kate learns that her worst fear -- as well as a fear so awful she'd never even considered it -- has come true: Sammy has died, and he was the shooter responsible for nearly two dozen deaths. Sheen and Bello are quite good at handling this emotionally difficult material. They vacillate between wailing in agony and trying to keep composure with an honesty that will be recognizable to anyone who has gone through the grieving process. On top of that, the marital spats that flair up between them have the flavor of a couple who had regrets well before they were ever forced to contend with unspeakable tragedy. Little actions, like the authority with which Kate cleans a dirty sink and the forceful forehand with which Bill repetitively smacks a tennis ball, offer telling glimpses into how these two people are close to exploding with emotions that they've kept hidden from each other for far too long. That steady buildup eventually gets released in the film's final act, and when these two finally let out their resentments, frustrations, and anger it's a blistering confrontation. A discussion like this either ends or strengthens a marriage, and the drama in Beautiful Boy is much more about the toll a crumbling marriage takes on a husband and wife than it is about the psychological makeup of a spree killer. Choosing the marriage as the focal point of the story turns out to be the film's best and worst aspect because as a portrait of two people headed for an inevitable, heartbreaking implosion where hurtful truths are finally said aloud, the movie has an unerring sensitivity. However, by using a mass killing as the impetus to get these two people to finally have the smoke-clearing fight they so desperately need, the movie bites off more than it can chew. The mammoth weight of Bill and Kate's misery leads the film down a road so dark that, even though the story resolves itself, we're left with little assurance of what will actually happen between these two people. The final scene occurs about a month after the shootings, and the movie's biggest flaw is that it doesn't extend the timeline of the narrative out a little farther -- everything is still so raw between the two of them that it's hard to shake the feeling we're being shortchanged on the story. Ambiguity is normally a welcome aspect to drama, but in this case we've been through so much torment that we need to see how Bill and Kate have picked up the pieces of their lives -- either alone or together -- a few years removed from this tragic event. There's much to respect about Beautiful Boy's admirably restrained yet still direct approach. It doesn't wallow in suffering, and it certainly doesn't make its lead characters out to be noble in their tragedy, but if the screenplay had taken a longer view of grief and guilt rather than minutely examining it, Beautiful Boy would have been a major statement. And while there's certainly no requirement that every serious drama must strive to be a grand summation about life, this particular story is rooted in enough real-life pain that Ku and company should have given it a try.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/11/2011
UPC:
0013132284897
Original Release:
2010
Rating:
R
Source:
Starz / Anchor Bay
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:41:00
Sales rank:
51,382

Special Features

Deleted scenes; Audio commentary with writer/director Shawn Ku, editor Chad Galster and cinematographer Michael Fimognari

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Maria Bello Kate
Michael Sheen Bill
Alan Tudyk Eric
Moon Bloodgood Trish
Austin Nichols Cooper
Kyle Gallner Sammy
Deidrie Henry Bonnie
Bruce French Harry
Logan South Young Sammy
Nigel Gibbs Police Detective
Brooke Lyons TV Reporter Voice
Michael Call TV Reporter Voice
Cody Wai-Ho Lee Dylan
Jessie Usher Basketball Teen
Davidson Park Other Basketball Player
Caleb Pearson Other Basketball Player
Joshua Shannon Other Basketball Player
Darren O'Hare Church Pastor
Myra Turley Grieving Mother Patty
Bella King Motel Clerk's Daughter
Meat Loaf Motel Clerk
Drake Kemper Teenage Burlgar
Mary Jane Gibson Bill's Coworker
Kylie Anderson Bill's Coworker
Tor Campbell Bill's Coworker
Judith DiGiacomo Bill's Coworker
Joe Dioletto Bill's Coworker
Stephen Murano Bill's Coworker
Josephine Ullrich Bill's Coworker
Philip Zurfluh Bill's Coworker
Gregory H. Alpert Web Reporter Voice,Baby Shower Carl
David Lipper Radio Reporter Voice,Television Ranter
Kelli Kirkland Powers TV News Reporter

Technical Credits
Shawn Ku Director,Screenwriter
Michael Armbruster Screenwriter
Lee Clay Producer
Michael Fimognari Cinematographer
Richard Gabai Executive Producer
Chad Galster Editor
Joe Galster Sound/Sound Designer
Eric Gozlan Producer
Mark Hansson Asst. Director
Richard Iott Executive Producer
Connie Iott Associate Producer
Ania Kamieniecki-O'Hare Casting
Mark Moran Executive Producer
Trey Morgan Associate Producer
Trevor Morris Score Composer
Gabor Norman Production Designer
Abigail Potter Art Director
Martin Scharf Associate Producer
Cynthia Summers Costumes/Costume Designer
Tannis Vallely Casting
Todd Williams Associate Producer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Beautiful Boy
1. Main Title / Snowflakes [10:04]
2. Devastating News [6:12]
3. Sorrow & Remorse [11:50]
4. Unheard Message [11:19]
5. Familial Discord [9:11]
6. Reconnection [11:32]
7. "There Is No Defense for What He Did" [9:51]
8. Looking for Answers [4:47]
9. Trust Violated [6:25]
10. "What Could You Have Said Anyway?" [9:52]
11. N New Beginning [4:48]
12. End Credits [4:36]

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