Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Beautiful Boy could be about any tragedy... and it is at its best when it is at its toughest.
New York Times:
"Beautiful Boy" tiptoes into a minefield, where it loses its nerve and remains frozen in its tracks, too timid to find a way back.
By the tenth round of what feels like drama-school exercises writ large, you wish these talents would simply say "Scene" and scoot into the wings.
Most of "Beautiful Boy" is unrelentingly bleak and depressing, but there are smatterings of understatement and grace.
A claustrophobic, punishingly intense, beautifully measured exploration of the depths of human despair.
Ku focuses on the effects the aftermath has on those intimately involved, and they are grim.
This feels like a movie that won a high school current-events contest: Take a tragedy, make a movie.
J. R. Jones,
The most daring aspect of the film, fully realized in Bello's grave performance, may be the notion that a parent can invest endless love in a child and one day find him unfathomable.
If the key performances in "Beautiful Boy" were any less honest, the film's half-formed suppositions would undo it utterly.
Christian Science Monitor:
There is, however, despite the intensity of the acting, an obviousness to the scenes as they play out in what often feels like real time.
A spare, unflinching examination of a married couple coping with the tragic death of their 18-year-old son.
Great drama makes you think you're looking into other people's lives. "Beautiful Boy" makes you think you're merely peeking in their windows.
Painfully perceptive and relentlessly raw, this intimate observation of a couple in extremis plays out with such subdued intensity that, by the end, audiences will very likely feel as wrung out as its embattled stars.
New York Daily News:
Actors are left with too much time to play emotional symphonies, while inevitably having to hit too many required notes.
New York Observer:
Beautiful Boy is a haunting, deeply disturbing but beautifully made film with depth and range about a dark subject...
Beautiful Boy is not an entertainment but an experience. And a kind of cinematic sensitivity training.
I suspect parents will react more strongly to this movie than non-parents. It's hard to imagine anyone, however, leaving the theater without a more thoughtful perspective.
Out of a premise horrifically familiar from tragedies at Columbine and Virginia Tech director Shawn Ku has crafted a film that will haunt you for a good long time.
Globe and Mail:
In Beautiful Boy, the themes are vast but the picture is small, and the ensuing emptiness is what the characters are meant to feel -- not us.
Ku gives us the shooter's parents' view of the tragedy and it is just as devastating as anything we can imagine among victims' families.
Filmmaker Shawn Ku achieves an impressive balance of formal control and emotional spontaneity in debut feature Beautiful Boy.
While Beautiful Boy is potent and even admirable (setting aside the question of why there are no scenes of the victims' parents' grief), it ultimately mistakes prim, emotional monotony for gravity.
An excruciating drama about a couple caught in the aftermath of a pivotal moment involving their college-age son.