"Beautiful Boy" puts rare twist on school shootings

Thu Jun 2, 2011 6:56pm EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Mass school shootings fill TV screens with bloody images, newspapers with heart-wrenching accounts from terrified students, and pose searching questions about the motives of the young killers.

But the movie "Beautiful Boy", opening in U.S. theaters on Friday, puts a rare spotlight on the anguished parents of a teen gunman.

Maria Bello and Michael Sheen star in the independent film as Kate and Bill, whose already fractured marriage is further tested when their only son goes on a rampage at his college before turning the gun on himself.

"Parents are regular people doing the best they can to raise a child," director and co-writer Shawn Ku told Reuters.

"But when something like this happens, they are so often forgotten, or worse, blamed. We thought it was worth showing their humanity," he added.

"Beautiful Boy" is the second movie this year on the topic of school shootings. "We Need to Talk About Kevin" -- based on Lionel Shriver's 2003 novel -- debuted at the Cannes film festival in May, starring Tilda Swinton as a woman trying to put her life back together in the wake of her son's killing spree. It is due for release later this year.

The two films follow the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado, where two teens killed 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide, and the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, where an undergraduate with mental health problems shot 32 people to death, then killed himself.

In "Beautiful Boy," the shootings happen off screen.   Continued...