Beautiful Boy [Blu-Ray] Shawn Ku

Beautiful Boy [Blu-Ray] Shawn Ku
Lynne Ramsay's recent, far more comprehensive and intelligent handling of the same subject, We Need to Talk about Kevin, is what exacerbates the many shortcomings of Shawn Ku's superficial, but nicely shot and well-acted, film about a couple grappling with the loss of their mass-murdering son. Where Ramsay delved into the psychology of nature versus nurture and compounded emotional instability, presenting a mother blaming herself and suffering through the onslaught of vitriol from her friends and neighbours, Ku is content just having his actors sit around looking stunned, occasionally flipping out or breaking down at the appropriate intervals. But, to be fair, Beautiful Boy is more about the struggling marriage between Kate (Maria Bello) and Bill (Michael Sheen) than it is the motivations of their son, Sammy (Kyle Gallery). Already cold and distant before the tragic event, they handle the news in different ways, with Kate grieving in a more traditional manner for the loss of her son while Bill takes some responsibility and confronts public scrutiny more openly. This difference in perspective is tackled only in the broadest sense, with a single emotional blow-out where blame is assigned for parenting styles, which only scratches the surface of what two people with a lifetime of baggage would actually throw at each other in the middle of an emotional crisis. Thematically, Ku's film suggests that compassion and connection are paramount in a moment of tragedy, but it never delves into the reason why most marriages end after the death of a child. The implication is mainly that the marriage had grown stale regardless of these events, but there's nary a whisper about the nature of parenting and the reality that it often takes over as life purpose once the initial passion has faded in a relationship based primarily on the public performance of normalcy. Had any real insight stemmed from the many emotional blowouts or quiet moments of character interaction, this quiet drama could have held some resonance. As it stands, this is merely a vessel for the acting talents of Sheen and Bello, both limited by a milquetoast script. No supplements are included with the Blu-Ray. (Anchor Bay)