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Beautiful Boy Movie Review
by Graham Foster

For the often ignored mothers & fathers, brothers & sisters, sons & daughters, romantic partners or anyone else who cares deeply about someone stuck in addiction…

This movie & review is for you!

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Beautiful Boy Movie Review

by Graham Foster

For the often ignored mothers & fathers, brothers & sisters, sons & daughters, romantic partners or anyone else who cares deeply about someone stuck in addiction… this movie & review is for you!

On 2nd Jan I went to see the premiere of ‘Beautiful Boy’ & it immediately struck me as a film with so much to offer for families of people battling with drug or alcohol addiction.

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The research by the writers of this movie is extensive or they actually went through this themselves. I’ve never seen as many real life situations and feelings explored so accurately before and I believe there are some powerful messages in this movie that can help people move to a healthier place, and be better able to help their loved ones too.

I love how the writer portrayed such accurate feelings throughout, even in the opening scene where the father says:

“Sometimes I think of the boy I knew inside & out and wonder ‘who is this person stood in front of me now‘”

It’s so true to real life. I hear different versions of this statement often and every single time addiction causes the loss of the old person. Actually in truth the old person is not lost, just buried deep or locked away, apart from brief glimpses. It feels as though they are gone.

In the movie the father is desperate to help his son and end his son’s pain, and of course this is the same for everyone I speak to calling the ARC. The father goes onto say:

“I want to know everything about this and how can I help him”

Again this is a common conversation for me answering the phone at the ARC. Especially for parents, who of course spent so many years protecting their children and figuring out how to solve their problems and their pain. Throughout the movie the father is shown researching online obsessively and I’m sure this is a familiar scene for many of you.

On 2nd Jan I went to see the premiere of ‘Beautiful Boy’ & it immediately struck me as a film with so much to offer for families of people battling with drug or alcohol addiction.

How residential drug centers can help you

The research by the writers of this movie is extensive or they actually went through this themselves. I’ve never seen as many real life situations and feelings explored so accurately before and I believe there are some powerful messages in this movie that can help people move to a healthier place, and be better able to help their loved ones too.

I love how the writer portrayed such accurate feelings throughout. Even in the opening scene. The father says:

“Sometimes I think of the boy I knew inside & out and wonder ‘who is this person stood in front of me now‘”

It’s so true to real life. I hear different versions of this statement often and every single time addiction causes the loss of the old person. Actually in truth the old person is not lost, just buried deep or locked away, apart from brief glimpses. It feels as though they are gone.

In the movie the father is desperate to help his son and end his son’s pain, and of course this is the same for everyone I speak to calling the ARC. The father goes onto say:

“I want to know everything about this and how can I help him”

Again this is a common conversation for me answering the phone at the ARC. Especially for parents, who of course spent so many years protecting their children and figuring out how to solve their problems and their pain. Throughout the movie the father is shown researching online obsessively and I’m sure this is a familiar scene for many of you.

Because I’m the director of ARC rehab It might seem a bit strange that I think it’s good for family members to let go and accept their loved one may never heal.

As well as the clear mental health benefits for the people closest to addicts & alcoholics, there’s an important subtlety to my view point that confirms the importance of rehabs like ARC.

Let me try to explain…

Because I’m the director of ARC rehab It might seem a bit strange that I think it’s good for family members to let go and accept their loved one may never heal.

As well as the clear mental health benefits for the people closest to addicts & alcoholics, there’s an important subtlety to my view point that confirms the importance of rehabs like ARC.

Let me try to explain…

One of my favourite parts of the film is when a common lie from the rehab industry is exposed.

Early on in the movie a rehab manager says that their success rate ranges from 20% – 80% which sounds promising, but then later on an expert with no agenda says:

“I don’t know who promised you what, but the success rates are single digits”

This is an important truth! Actually the truth is it’s almost impossible for anyone to measure genuine long-term success rates, but for sure they are a lot lower over a longer period of time than most rehabs will openly admit. However, each year many people do get clean or dry for the last time, then stay this way and build fantastic new lives.

I get calls or email from clients who completed treatment and then relapsed years later, only to get clean again for the last time shortly after. I’m often told that eventually they got well in large part due to what they had learned about addiction and recovery while at the ARC. Our 5 year success rates are likely to be low. But I truly believe ARC’s success rates are higher than any other rehab due to the differences in our treatment model that we designed from scratch.

I also believe that the right rehab is still the best chance anyone has of moving beyond addiction.

Much of what we do is about sowing seeds in minds which sometimes save decades of life later on, rather than only focusing on trying to fix a client right now. We do this because the journey from addiction to recovery for some can be a journey of years. Of course we do everything we can to help our clients start that life-changing journey of long term recovery RIGHT NOW… but if they stumble they still have powerful knowledge & skills learnt at ARC that can help in a future chapter of their lives.

beautiful boy with brother

Back to the movie Beautiful Boy!

I really do like it. For some people it will be hard to watch, but it’s an important movie that accurately captures the feelings parents and family go through as well as many of the extreme but common situations that happen in real life.

The film also gives a fair amount of insight into the feelings addicts and alcoholics go through. At one point the son who is on drugs asks his dad:

“Don’t hate me dad”

And then in another scene says:

“I’m sorry mum”

But other times the son is angry and seems to blame his father for trying to control him. In the real world this apparent Jeckyl and Hyde behaviour is seen in anyone suffering with drug or alcohol addiction. Feelings are very mixed up and there’s nearly always a lot of anger at everyone and everything, but contradicted with deep feelings of guilt and shame. Some of the most important work we do at ARC is to deal with the issues of guilt and shame and anger.

beautiful boy film son blaming father for controlling him

The movie has many other scenes that will be familiar to a lot of people, for example…

  • Family ringing round hospitals and police stations when their loved one vanishes
  • Phones ringing in middle of night from hospital after an overdose
  • Addicts or alcoholics robbing the house of the people that love them most
  • Stealing $8 from little brothers and sisters

I’m sure these scenes ring a bell for many of you, but some of them stand out more than others. In one scene the son addicted to drugs calls his father after having been missing for a few weeks. The son asks to meet up in a café and the father was very relieved and went to meet him and try to help. When they sit down together the son asks a couple of questions about the rest of the family, but after 30 unbearable seconds he starts to ask for $200. In the son’s face you can see the pain from shame & guilt as he asks for the money. Then you see the pain in the fathers face as he says no but offers genuine help, only to be refused and again begged for money. I think this is the point in the movie where the father realises his son is truly gone, for now at least, and the father starts to let go after this point.

college graduation

There’s another scene where it’s revealed the son was offered 6 different college places, but after 1 year he succumbed to addiction and threw it all away. The father tells him:

“You can get it all back”

but it’s not the right time for the son to hear this. Addicts and alcoholics are often very intelligent people and can seem to have the world at their feet early on in life, only to seemingly throw it all away when addiction takes over. It’s a common and huge source of pain for parents or other family members because of course we all want our loved ones to do well in life and we know how capable they are at times.

Beautiful Boy is not all aimed at family members. There’s a striking scene that will resonate with many people who stopped using drugs or alcohol for a time, only to suddenly find themselves taking a direct line to the dealers house or off license. In the movie, after a couple of years of the son being clean and sober and getting on with his life he gets to the end of his uni graduation ceremony then out of the blue he decides he does not want normal life. He wants to party hard and so he relapses that night from what seems like a strong position.

In real life some people call this the Fu** it button, and parts of treatment at ARC are designed specifically to reduce the frequency of these impulses and provide other cognitive routes out of that mindset. We create options other than relapsing.

Why Do I Recommend You See This Movie?

Why do I recommend you see this movie?

I think the film Beautiful Boy is important for parents and other close relatives to watch because you’ll understand you’re not alone in this.

There are others going through the same thing right now and REAL HELP is available for family members.

I think the film Beautiful Boy is important for parents and other close relatives to watch because you’ll understand you’re not alone in this.

There are others going through the same thing right now and REAL HELP is available for family members.

There is a scene in the film where the parents attend a self help group with a mantra on the wall that reads:

You didn’t Cause it!
You can’t Control it!
You can’t Cure it!

I think that’s a strong message that can help you a lot.

Believe me no one can control addiction! You can do your best to help when there’s an opportunity to help, and of course anyone who has seen a loved one in agony has done whatever they can, but at some point it’s important to accept that control of any outcomes is not an option. In fact the level of change needed by someone struggling with drugs or alcohol is only possible if the motivation comes genuinely from deep inside themselves, and not from someone else.

beautiful boy movie family happy together

If there’s a chance this film may help you along the journey and start to let go of controlling this thing, then you have to watch it. Letting go increases the chances of your loved one moving forwards, and it will help you to start to heal your pain too. I think meatloaf nailed it with:

“I would do anything for love”

When you love someone it’s only human to do everything in your power to help them out of trouble. But this can become unhealthy for everyone involved and one of the challenges for family and friends of addicts and alcoholics is figuring out when to help or when to let go.

In the same self help group scene from the movie a lady is in tears because her daughter died and she says something along the lines of:

“I thought I’d start to grieve, but then I realised I’d been grieving her for years while she was alive”

Of course I hope everyone’s loved ones stay alive and in fact move beyond addiction to live to the full. But I recognise the reality I hear from so many parents that call up the ARC. Grieving began when they lost the person they cared about to drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately many people often get stuck in the earlier stages of grief.

I would advise all parents to seek out self help groups. Feeling alone in this journey is one of the hardest parts of the journey and yet so easily solved.

Here are links to a few places that offer support…

AdFam 
Al-Anon
Nar Anon
Smart
Triora

help is out there

The movie could help you to let go, which is very important for you and the person you love who is struggling so much. It’s important for you to let go because the reality is you have no control over this thing, so your mental health deteriorates due to chronic and never ending stress and worry. You can’t control what happens to the person you love so much and you can’t control them. But you can control how you look after yourself.

It’s sometimes hard to understand but no addict or alcoholic is going to get any real kind of recovery unless they have decided themselves that is what they want. Often when someone else tries to push them to get clean or sober they will fight against this on some level. It’s human psychology and it’s very frustrating but this is the way it works. I have years of evidence to demonstrate that when the decision to do something comes from the person who needs help, the odds of successfully moving beyond addiction or alcoholism are a lot higher.

I want to finish off with 1 simple message…

Look after yourselves.

It’s time to take care of you.

Whatever you do or don’t do next, my wishes are that you find courage to tread your path and encounter love along the way.

If you genuinely think your loved is ready and wants to move towards a new life from their own motivation, then I do believe ARC is the best option available. I’m always on the end of the phone so please get in touch any time to talk about any thing.

Graham Foster is the Founding Director at ARC Portsmouth

About the Author

Graham Foster
Director of Treatment Programme

Expert of Addiction Psychology
Published Addiction Author
UKCP Contemporary Psychotherapy (Intermediate)
Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming
20+ Years helping People move beyond Addiction 

About the Author

Graham Foster is the Founding Director at ARC Portsmouth

Graham Foster
Director of Treatment Programme

Expert of Addiction Psychology
Published Addiction Author
UKCP Contemporary Psychotherapy (Intermediate)
Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming
20+ Years helping People move beyond Addiction 

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Any emails from ARC will never have any words in the subject line that could identify your issues. My contact database is kept on an encrypted server and safe from any third party. If at any time you think you want to stop receiving my emails or remove yourself from my contact list then please hit ‘unsubscribe’ at the bottom of any email. It’s effective & immediate.