Beautiful Boy Shawn Ku

Beautiful Boy Shawn Ku
Call me daft, but I don't get director/writer Shawn Ku. He takes an incredibly original idea ― a couple (played by Michael Sheen and Maria Bello) inching towards divorce are thrown into flux when their college-age son (Kyle Gallner) commits a murder-suicide ― and dilutes it with as many tired and lazy clichés as you'd find in an episode of ER.

All of the predictable stages of grief are present: sadness, tears, anger, denial and acceptance. Throw in kitchen sink politics, picket-fenced neighbours, a boring sex scene (where the sheets come up to here!) and a cameo by Meatloaf (who should have retired after playing Bob Bitch Tits in Fight Club) and you've got yourself a Sally Field Sunday night wankfest.

This is what you would call "an actor's wet dream": high on performance, low on substance. Sheen and Bello swell and collapse every 15 minutes with a theatre of emotions; it's hard to keep up, not just for the audience, but for the actors as well. One moment they're crying in agony, the next they're washing dishes and talking about steaks. I kept waiting for Bello and Sheen to start stabbing themselves, or each other, with dull utensils; instead, they pull a few hissy fits and break a plate or two. Yawn.

Director Ku has made pathos a hard sell and I have to wonder if he's being hesitant and careful, since this is his first feature-length project, playing it safe to win over the industry. But an actor's wet dream is an audience's nightmare.

How could you, Ku? You had the opportunity to render fat from a boiling pig, but instead all you do is oink. Beautiful Boy didn't hold my full attention, only the slightest amount, so unless you're planning to talk and text during the film, you'd be wise to stay home. (Anchor Bay)