“Beautiful Boy,” directed by Shawn Ku, pictures the ordeal of parents after their young son’s death and moreover their son who committed a mass shooting at his university campus before killing himself. While as of now, there are quite a few films on the school shooting and such kinds of rampages, this one is more focused on the effects of the aftermath.
The news that their 18-year-old son carried out a mass shooting at his college and then committed suicide devastates a married couple who are on the point of divorcing one another.
Bill (Michael Sheen) and Kate (Maria Bello) are a married couple who are too much busy in their own professional life and on the verge of divorce for their own personal preference. They have a son Sam (Kyle Gallner) studying at university but having trouble adjusting to a new college environment.
In the middle of all, one morning it is reported on the news that there has been a shooting spree at Sam’s school. While Bill and Kate try to contact Sam over the phone, they get no response from the other side, until police officers come to their home not only to inform them that Sam is dead but also to the horrific reality that Sam is the cause of the rampage.
While Kate refuses to believe that their son would do such a horrible crime, Bill somehow tries to cope with an extreme floating emotion, his own anguished confrontation, in which he blames his son as well as himself for the whole episode.
Now both the couple not only has to deal with people from outside but also with themselves as their son’s crime has left them alone in a world where they have hardly anyone to share their grief. From the verge of a separate life, they are now together.
The best thing about “Beautiful Boy” is that Ku does not try to go deep into the cliché behind such crime, social and psychological aspects, rather leaves a few questions such as: Did Kate and Bill fail to be a part of their son’s life? Is their disturbed marriage a cause of Sam’s upset psyche? Do they have to live with this guilt forever?
“Beautiful Boy” does not give you answers to these questions, but leaves the impression that there is no denying that as parents both Kate and Bill will have to live a life without any option and consolation. On their way, they might meet some people and friends who may understand them and their grief but hardly there will be any joy in a normal life.
Directed by Shawn Ku
Starring: Michael Sheen, Maria Bello, Alan Tudyk, Moon Bloodgood, and Kyle Gallner
Written by Michael Armbruster and Shawn Ku
Cinematography: Michael Fimognari
Release Date/Year: September 2010 (San Sebastián); June 3, 2011 (United States)