They don’t hate each other, they have a deep bond and genuinely like and love each other. No big dramatic thing happened to cause it, no little thing happened to cause it. His parents are aware of what their son is struggling with from the start. If you are looking for answers and reasons to future-proof your children against using drugs, you are not going to find the answers in this film. What you will find is the story of one family and how drugs happened with their family, and what they did with it all.
Numerous times during the film I watched the son, going so far backward and so far forwards, it was as if the pendulum of addiction and recovery never lost momentum long enough to settle in one place. I just wanted it to stop in the right place, and it did for months on end, even years, but it was so powerful to draw him back in. Seeing him slip so slowly away from himself and who he was, with his family trying to hold on to him is incredibly shocking, the raw vulnerability of all of them as they try so hard.
As a Mum, there are two scenes in particular that made my lungs contract hard. David (the Dad played by Steve Carell) goes to New York to pick his son Nic (played by Timothee Chalamet) up after he overdoses. Back in the motel, Nic is so destroyed and depleted he falls asleep on the floor in his underpants and David covers him with a blanket and just looks at him. I could feel his thoughts from his actions and eyes, the need to help and for answers, the sadness at Nic in such a state and his own pain and exhaustion. Nic’s Mum, Vicki (played by Amy Ryan) goes to see him in rehab and hugs him so hard on a battered, worn, old sofa, Nic (also so battered and worn) clutched to her, she looks up at the ceiling fighting the tears, completely wrought with it all. They try so very hard to help, all that they can, passing the baton back and forth between them. I love the scene when Nic’s step mum Karen (played by Maura Tierney) chases after him in her car down a country road, she’s crying, sad and angry all at the same time and you are not sure if she catches up with him if she’s going to hug him or punch him. Nic’s little floppy blonde brother and sister are adorable, and you see through their eyes how much they love and adore Nic no matter what, as well as how much they understand.
We can all be sniffy as parents and say ‘that would never happen to us, I wouldn’t let it’ but you can’t ever say that, as we can’t ever guarantee that. Addiction is no one’s fault, not the parents, the family or the individual that is addicted. This film is a so watchable, real, almost a normal, everyday account of drug addiction, no dirty back alleys, stupid people or useless parents. They are just like us, as much as you might not want to hear it, but they are. I didn’t cry until the end scene, it’s simple, wordless and deeply powerful. Add the song on top by John Lennon and I was gone. I also didn’t know it’s based on a true story, a real person, which slaps it all home even harder.
Go see it, it’s a great film (I’m going to watch it again with my 16yo teenage son) relatable, harsh and full of desperate love, faith, and hope; feeling we should all try to never run out of.