Students attend screening of blockbuster Beautiful Boy

Gabby Kepnes, Staff Writer

Head of the Upper Division Dr. Jessica Levenstein emailed an invitation to attend a private screening of  film Beautiful Boy followed by a talk-back with actor Timothée Chalamet and Nic Sheff to upperclassmen students this last Monday.

Based on the memoirs Beautiful Boy and Tweak by David and Nic Sheff respectively, the film captures the story of how when Nic Sheff’s  addiction threatened to destroy him, his father, David, did everything in his power to save his son.

Kathie Berlin P’90 planned the event after seeing the movie at the Toronto Film Festival, she said.

“I thought that this would be a film that kids should see and, in addition, it would be a great conversation they could have at school or with their parents,” Berlin said.

After speaking to Amazon Studios, the company handling the movie’s press, Berlin decided New York City kids should be invited to the screening, including students from Chalamet’s former high school, Laguardia High School of Music and Performing Arts.

Berlin ended up calling ten schools in the city, ranging from public to private, and about 300 students attended.

“Based on what I saw last year when the author of Call Me By Your Name visited campus, I knew we were going to have many students who would be interested in a Timothée Chalamet movie,” Levenstein said.

During the post-film conversation, Sheff said that the film is about the internal struggle he had based on his brain chemistry.

“You have to really believe that addiction is a brain disease and it has to be treated like a disease,” Sheff said.

“The film showed me that you cannot control addiction. Even if you deal with it for your whole life, it’s uncontrollable,” Sophie Coste (12) said.

“When I was in high school, I never learned about emotions because no matter the occasion I would resort to getting high,” Sheff said. “I never learned how to really cope with physical feelings.”

During the Q&A, Marli Katz (11) posed a question for Chalamet: “As someone who recently graduated high school, is there a certain message you want kids our age to take away?” Katz said.

“People in high school have probably already been exposed to certain drugs already,” Chalamet said. “The point of the movie is not to romanticize or glorify drugs but to understand how horrible the exposure of it is,” he said.

Sheff explained that at a certain point in his life, he was using more drugs than he ever had before, and that his then-girlfriend encouraged him to run away to continue using drugs, he said.

“If I went with her, we were going to die, and it was going to be real death, like the end of everything; death,” Sheff said. “It was an ‘ah-ha’ moment which I saw it so clearly, and where I realized that I didn’t want to die, I actually wanted to live and that feeling changed everything.”

The film exceeded Claire Griffin’s (11) expectations. “The film was so much more intense than I had ever imagined,” she said.

“[Recovery is] not always a straight road, but the fact that recovery is possible is really an honor to be able to speak about,” Sheff said. “When I was trying to get sober, I found that I had no idea how to exist in this world without drugs until I realized that it’s possible to live an incredible life sober. There’s a lot of hope out there.”