Verdict: Shia LaBeouf bares all in this unflinching and deeply personal account.
Starting off as a successful child actor, Shia LaBeouf has gone on to make a big name for himself in Hollywood. However, coming from a broken home, his journey hasn’t been an easy one. That’s exactly what he chronicles in his latest film Honey Boy, teaming up with director Alma Har’el. LaBeouf worked on the autobiographical screenplay while he was in rehab following a 2017 arrest. This film follows his strenuous relationship with his father as he also takes on the role of his parent.
What’s Honey Boy About:
22-year-old stuntman and actor Otis (Lucas Hedges) is sent to court-ordered rehab after multiple drunk altercations. There, he is diagnosed with PTSD and is told to recall his relationship with his father as part of his therapy. As a 12-year-old, Otis (Noah Jupe) is a successful child actor who is chaperoned by his deadbeat father James (Shia LaBeouf). They live together in a shabby motel where Otis runs his lines and James shares elaborate stories of his glory days. James, who was an addict, has been sober for four years and shares a strained relationship with his son who has achieved far more than he could. Meanwhile, Otis is yearning for his father’s affection who, on the other hand, is disdainful and sometimes abusive. Looking for an escape, the young boy begins to dabble in bad habits that will eventually lead him to rehab.
Honey Boy can be best described as a transparent exhibition of self-exploration. Shia LaBeouf leaves his pain out in the open for every viewer to share. His screenplay is candid and director Alma Har’el serves it to us unfiltered. You will feel his emotions as the film takes you through some of the toughest moments of his life. As Lucas Hedges says in the role of Otis, “The only valuable thing my father gave me was pain.” If you think about it, it couldn’t possibly be easy for LaBeouf to step into the role of his own father as he accounts their volatile relationship. Yet he manages it with genuine detail that can only be anchored in a child’s memory of their own parent. He embodies empathy as he invites us into an unbiased look at the man. You know he’s not the ideal parent but you also empathize with his plight much like you do for his son. As LaBeouf plays his father, Noah Jupe steps in LaBeouf’s shoes. Both actors are so sincere in their performances that it could be difficult to tell that they’re playing a role. Noah Jupe shows commendable maturity and works in unison with his costar. Artist and musician FKA Twigs is also a notable delight as she makes her feature acting debut. As Otis’ neighbor and kindred spirit, she provides him with the warmth and love that he yearns for.
Honey Boy is a riveting piece of art in the sense that it skilfully presents the uncompromising picture of a traumatic childhood, alcoholism, and abuse.
What Could’ve Been Better:
Honey Boy is not the kind of film you’d watch as an entertaining escape. It’s a meta and healing expression as LaBeouf bares his pain on camera.
Why You Should Watch:
As you watch Honey Boy, you almost feel like you’re put into LaBeouf’s life and you’re experiencing his childhood firsthand. It’s moving and thoroughly therapeutic.