Real Life Memoirs On Screen

Real Life Memoirs On Screen Beautiful Boy

Many screenwriters have been inspired by real life memoirs and adapted them for the screen. For the critically-acclaimed drama BEAUTIFUL BOY, Luke Davies and Felix van Groeningen based their screenplay on the real-life memoirs of David Sheff and his son Nic. “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction” and “Tweak: Growing up on Crystal Meth” unflinchingly describe Nic’s downward spiral into drug addiction and his dad’s tireless efforts to save his life.

Ahead of the release of BEAUTIFUL BOY on Blu-ray and DVD, we take a look at some of our favourite films inspired by real-life memoirs which chronicle intense, emotional and ultimately inspirational life experiences.

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (2007) – Julian Schnabel

Ronald Harwood’s (The Piano) Bafta-winning and Oscar-nominated screenplay for The Diving Bell and The Butterfly was based on Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir of the same name and portrays Bauby’s (Mathieu Amalric) life before and after the massive stroke that left him with locked-in syndrome. Almost completely physically paralyzed but mentally normal, Bauby’s only means of communication is to spell out messages letter by letter by blinking his left eye. Remarkably, Bauby was able to complete his life story using this laborious process. Unflinchingly honest, the film and original memoir are an inspirational testament to love, family and the human spirit.

Wild (2014) – Jean-Marc Vallée

Following the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed descended into a deep depression that she tried to numb with heroin and anonymous sex, eventually destroying her marriage. Having reached rock-bottom, she made the rash decision to embark on a 1,100 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail despite having no hiking experience.  

In 2012 she published a memoir of the walk “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” which was adapted for the screen by Nick Hornby. Starring Reese Witherspoon, who received an Oscar nomination for the role, Wild powerfully captures the determination of a young woman who, against all odds, completes this immense physical and emotional challenge in her quest for redemption and healing.

127 Hours (2010) – Danny Boyle

“127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place” is Aron Ralston’s heroic story of survival following a freak accident while hiking in the Utah canyons. When he slid down a boulder, it shifted, trapping his right hand against the canyon wall where he remained for five days. Finally, he faced the most terrible and agonising decision of his life as the only way to free himself was to amputate his own hand.

Adapted by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy 127 Hours,starring James Franco,is a riveting depiction of Aron’s extreme ordeal and the determination that led to his survival.

12 Years a Slave (2013) – Steve McQueen

Solomon Northup was a free-born African American but in 1841 he was kidnapped and sold in to slavery. He wrote about his experiences following his release, after 12 years of unthinkable hardship, and his compelling and extremely dignified first-person account of slavery helped to further the abolitionist movement in the U.S. 160 years later his incredible life story was brought to the screen by John Ridley (screenplay) and Steve McQueen (director) in the Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Beautiful Boy (2018) – Felix van Groeningen

Beautiful Boy is based on a collection of best-selling memoirs written by a father and son, outlining their experiences with addiction and how they dealt with it within their family. Timothée Chalamet plays Nic Sheff, a talented student who has succumbed to the tyranny of hard drugs. His devoted dad (Steve Carell) tries everything possible to save him and the rest of the family while in constant fear that all his efforts will be in vain. The film is a stark and raw look at the frustrating nature of addiction and how it not only affects the individual, but those close to them.


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