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Beautiful Boy BD [Blu-ray]

 R (Restricted)   Blu-ray

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada
  • Release Date: Oct. 11 2011
  • ASIN: B005CA4SP6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #49,162 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description


On the surface, this impressive little movie with the deceptively gentle title is near unrelentingly bleak and depressing. But the understatement and grace notes evident in the overlapping themes of personal loss and horrific tragedy make it an absorbing character study with insight into redemption and recovery from even the most devastating blows life can deal. Under the attentive direction of newcomer Shawn Ku, Michael Sheen and Maria Bello are responsible for most of the emotional grandeur as parents of a college freshman whose unknown inner chaos erupts into mass murder and suicide on his unnamed campus one morning, a starting point plainly inspired by the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech. Bill and Kate are on the steep down-slope of a marriage--he's already making plans to move out--when the unthinkable news arrives at their door in the form of two police officers seeking clues to the mind-boggling motivations that triggered the actions of their son. The aftermath and all its attendant details are scrupulously observed by Ku's shaky, handheld camera with its long lens kept almost exclusively in ultra-tight close-up to telegraph the claustrophobia of Bill and Kate's individual and shared turmoil. Of course there's much more than turmoil and grief. There's rage, desolation, incomprehension, recrimination, and pitiable sorrow, not only for themselves, but also for the progression of choices that could have brought them to such an inconceivable place in the world. It's a lot for such a spare movie to bite off and chew, and the evolution of reason that the script lays out for Bill and Kate sometimes stutters. Yet Sheen and Bello never waver in their choices as actors to keep the overwhelming reality facing their characters from completely going off the deep end. Several scenes that come together at a cheap motel where they have fled to partially keep the crushing truth at bay are heartbreakingly moving and truly remarkable showcases of their professional skill. The rigorous formal style that includes the camerawork and a pallid, washed-out blue-gray palette is as rigorous as the performances. Events and emotions conspire to direct Bill and Kate's panoply of anguish toward a resolution that recognizes there is no answer to the questions asked by police, parents, and the movie itself. But the suggestion lingers that there may be a kind of deliverance in the affectingly beautiful despondency of Beautiful Boy. --Ted Fry

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  72 reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Up-to-the-minute As Tomorrow's Headlines and Brilliantly Acted / Directed Oct. 26 2011
By James Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I must admit that the premise of this film did not excite me terribly at first glance, since I've seen too many made-for-TV movies filled with overly sentimental music and tear-jerking dramatics. Viewing the film, however, was both refreshing and dramatically satisfying.

Bill and Kate are the middle-class parents of college junior Sammy, a young man who has always been quiet and something of a loner. There is a tension beneath their marriage which is not readily apparent to anyone, not even to them. One night their son calls and sounds unusually quiet. The viewer is easily able to spot the sadness and confusion in his face, but Bill and Kate notice nothing over the phone, chatting only about planning the family vacation.

The next morning brings the news that a student has shot dozens of fellow students at Sammy's college. There is a lockdown and no information is coming out of the school. Worried as they are, Bill and Kate convince themselves that Sammy is fine - he rarely answers his cell phone anyway, Kate muses - until the moment when two detectives appear at their door. Kate screams, "He's dead, isn't he?" and their worst fears are confirmed. But then comes the unthinkable, "There's more" says the Detective, as he informs them that Sammy is the perpetrator who shot himself in the head after murdering so many of his fellow students. "LIAR!" shrieks Kate, "LIAR!" she repeats, as she collapses in disbelief.

They both take to bed, Bill in their room and Kate sprawled across Sammy's in his attic bedroom. After a short while, the reporters appear at their door and the television is endlessly showing Sammy's photo and a seemingly psychopathic video he made shortly before his rampage. Bill and Kate flee to Kate's brother's home, while they try to come to terms with Sammy's inexplicable killing spree.

The first thing that impressed me about this film was the superb acting. Michael Sheen ("David Frost" in FROST NIXON; "Tony Blair" in THE QUEEN) is nothing short of brilliant as the confused and grieving Bill. He's a good man, a good husband and a good father, but the events that unfold make him question if the tragedy could somehow be their fault. Maria Bello (THANK YOU FOR SMOKING) is extremely effective as Kate, believably and quietly wringing all the emotion one could expect out of the situation. But even more than their amazing performances, the tight script, effectively dramatic without any pathos or phony emotion, is as believable as one could want and plunges the viewer directly into the experience of the two shocked parents, as they deal with horribly cruel and judgmental comments on Sammy's Facebook page, childish, sadistic graffiti spray-painted on his tombstone, endless talk-show hosts who condemn them as parents without ever meeting them, and thrill-seeking teens who break into their home to "investigate" all they can about the "Psycho murderer." How many times have we seen headlines like this and thought, "It's the parents fault" without giving any real consideration to who the parents really are and how confused and saddened they must be to lose a child?

Equally impressive is the first-rate direction by Shawn Ku, who restrains the dramatics to the point of sheer plausibility and whose indulgence in hand-held cameras is neither excessive nor obtrusive. The best thing about it, it bears repeating, is the absence of maudlin emotions and tear-wrenching, sappy speeches or music. The scenes are all well thought out, extremely credible and ultimately satisfying. For a while, I thought they had stopped making films like this. The pedestrian premise initially prompted me to give it just four stars, but in the end I was so satisfied by this marvelously well-done, old-fashioned drama that I can't see how it deserves less than five.

Highly recommended.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing. Dec 9 2011
By Brian Nallick - Published on Amazon.com
I'll get this out of the way.
Brilliant acting.
Amazing direction.
Pacing, score, pretty much everything was brilliant.
Definitely worth a watch.
Here's why...

The movie is about your average married couple who's college age kid snaps and goes on a school shooting rampage before taking his own life.
My memories of Columbine and the other various school shootings over the years are still very fresh in my mind.
The one thing that I always wondered was how the families related to the shooters dealt with what had happened.
I think this movie does an excellent job of showing what these families go through.
When Columbine happened, I like many was the first to point my finger at the parents.
But what I've noticed about a lot of these shooters is that they're almost always late teens to early twenties. That's usually right when schizophrenia symptoms start to manifest in young men.
So no, in a lot of cases I think the parents raise the kids just fine and are just as baffled by what happened as everyone else.
I know it's of little comfort to the victims families but all too often the warning signs of mental illness go unnoticed.
The only thing we can really learn from tragedies like this are to better recognize the symptoms as well as finding better ways to treat people who are mentally ill before things escalate to such violence.
This was a very difficult movie for me to make it through.
If you cry easily, you better have tissue near by.
I did.
A powerful and disturbing movie that I'm glad I saw.
I probably won't ever watch it again it was too depressing.
It definitely left a mark on me.
Very sad.
As I said before I, like many pointed my finger of judgement at the parents.
That wasn't fair of me or anyone else to do.
Sometimes there are answers.
Sometimes there aren't.
Sometimes the answers, like mental illness only become apparent after the fact.
This movie made me think.
It made me cry.
It makes me hope that we find better ways of helping people around us who are in need of it.
An amazing and powerful movie.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Harrowing And Understated Domestic Drama Slightly Undermined By Reviews That Reveal Too Much Nov. 4 2011
By K. Harris - Published on Amazon.com
The struggling married couple at the heart of "Beautiful Boy" have their lives altered by the most horrific nightmare imaginable involving their son. It is timely and excruciatingly unpleasant, the central tragedy should resonate with anyone concerned about alienation and random violence in the world today. To the movie's advantage, the DVD cover and promotional material has the common sense to NOT reveal the specifics of this incident. For the movie to achieve its maximum power, it is best to allow the content to be unveiled to the viewer as it unfolds to the parents. However, this subtle tactic is undermined by almost every review available on Amazon (including Amazon's own editorial DVD description). It's an unfortunate miscalculation, in my estimation, as it eliminates much tension from the film's earlier scenes and detracts from one of the year's most harrowing moments. Writer/director Shawn Ku takes universal tragedy and shifts the focus in an unexpected and very personal way. By doing so, he has given Michael Sheen and Maria Bello two of the most underrated roles (and performances) of the year.

Sheen and Bello play an affluent, yet struggling, couple on the brink of divorce. As they are making important decisions about their lives together, some crushing news about their college-age son smashes their existence. Suddenly, they are at the center of a public maelstrom. Everything they thought they knew has been stripped away and they are left with nothing but each other. Trying to make sense of what happened and simultaneously trying to move past it, the couple attempt to navigate a powder keg of emotions. And the story is very much about Bello and Sheen and how they cope. Will this incident pull them back together or destroy them forever. Part of the nuance of Ku's screenplay is that it allows that they are each their own person, and their reaction to the event and its aftermath is very separate (even as they are forever intertwined). Filled with regret, recriminations, and humiliation--is it possible to move on? And where does ultimate responsibility lay when unimaginable things occur?

"Beautiful Boy" is a smart and sophisticated piece of work. Despite the opportunity for emotional grandstanding, Bello and Sheen remain remarkably grounded and utterly real. At times, you might wish the movie offered more insight into just who their son is. He is never developed (as a conscious decision), but the enigma of his character lingers all over the movie. I mean if his parents, who by all accounts had a close enough relationship with the boy, are clueless--it's hard for the viewer to contextualize what happens. Still, the movie is sensitively wrought and offers two compelling performances. Sheen, as always, executes in one of his most emotional roles. But it is Bello that has the chance to surprise. I've always liked Bello, but her resume veers all over the place from top tier work to grade-B schlock. This time, she's chosen right and her brittleness has rarely been used to such affect. This is definitely a movie for adults who appreciate serious minded filmmaking. An easy recommendation--its power comes from its understatement. About 4 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 11/11.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A SAD TAKE INDEED March 20 2012
By Mark Turner - Published on Amazon.com
There are movies that entertain and then there are movies that make you think. When a movie can do both at the same time it's an amazing feat. Unfortunately this is a rare occurrence and these movies usually fail. Such is the case with BEAUTIFUL BOY.

The story revolves around a couple on the verge of divorce. Married for some time Bill (Michael Sheen) is in the process of finding a new apartment. Wife Kate (Maria Bello) is planning a family vacation, one last time to go somewhere together with their son Sam (Kyle Gallner). Away at school, Sam seems bothered when he calls his folks one night. Why is apparent the next day.

While at work, Bill's co-workers are watching the news and concerned about him. Someone has opened fire at the college where Sam goes and massacred a number of students there. Kate is told the same by her friend and neighbor whose daughter also attends the same college. Bill comes home to be with Kate and eventually the police show. It's not just to notify the couple that Sam is dead, but to tell them he was the shooter and took his own life.

The rest of the film follows the parents dealing with the guilt and frustration they feel about the event their son has placed them in. Was there something they did wrong? Could they have foreseen what would happen? Why would he do such a thing? Couple this with the press hounding them and they begin to wonder if this all could have been their fault.

Leaving their home where reporters camp out daily, they spend time with Kate's brother and his family. Each deals with the problem in their own way. Bill looks at things from an orderly point of view, making sure they issue a press release and keeping up a strong face while he mourns in private.

Kate is the emotional one, first denying that any of this could have taken place. She insists that their son did nothing, that he couldn't have done something so heinous. When video of him ranting in a recorded message he left behind surfaces she must face the truth. But she still retreats into herself, attempting to subtly take the mother's position in her brother's home.

Eventually the couple leave and hole up in a motel where their various means of dealing with the problem shoots them up and down the emotional scale, one moment arguing with one another and the next falling into each other's arms in love once more only to fight again the next morning. Neither one is prepared for what happened or for what is going on now. They just deal with it themselves in their own way, never completely offering each other the support that each needs at this time. Only time will tell if they come out of this nightmare stronger or defeated.

The film focuses not on the son and his deed but on the aftermath he leaves behind. While the characters are faced with questions about themselves and their family, for the most part they seem more concerned with themselves than with their son, they seem selfish to an extent. How one would deal with this sort of thing is hard to imagine but this couple seems intent on their own feelings and nothing more.

And this makes for a movie that offers two roles where critics and awards type shows will respond with praise but that viewers will watch with a certain amount of boredom. Running just over 2 hours it's hard to sit and watch the pain and the self flagellation that goes on for nearly that entire time. Over and over again we watch them fight and seek someone to blame, more often than not taking the brunt of it all. And that's a weight that anyone would find hard to handle. But that's all the movie focuses on. It never offers any relief or solutions.

The subject matter is topical and something few of us would ever even consider thinking about and yet with the number of mass killings perhaps it's something we should. One would hope that placed in the same circumstances each of us would be able to find some way of dealing with the problem and hopefully better than this couple does.

Watching the film is like placing yourself in the same situation. You feel nothing but sad and depressed. With each passing moment as they fail to find a solution you just keep begging that it will end. Some may think of this as art but for me it's just a way to encourage depression. I'd rather spend my money on something else.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tough to watch. Tough subject March 7 2012
By R. W. Milyard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I got this movie because I love Maria Bello's acting, and she did not disappoint.
The subject being, your child using a gun and killing other children and then killing (or not)himself or herself.
This true to life scenario has only picked up in the past 20 years, and I personally have always felt a very deep sorrow for not only the children and parents of the victims, but especially for
the parents of the assailant. How do you ever deal with knowing your kid has murdered others?
Not only do you have the grief that the other parents have, but you get to add in guilt and of course that distasteful human reaction of morbid curiosity.
This is the only movie I have ever watched on this subject, as it would not be on the top of my
list to produce, but the subject had to be breached for us (the general public) to mull over.
The movie was hard to watch, but as I have stated, I have always wondered just how these parent can cope with the situation and the movie helped some in that endeavor.
Movies fall into two categories; One to entertain, and the second (what this movie does so well) is to enlighten.

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