screen actor Shia LaBeouf wrote the film during his court-ordered rehab,
after a drink-driving arrest in 2017. The film delves into his traumatised
childhood with an alcoholic, abusive father played by LaBeouf himself in a
furiously honest performance.
vividly vulnerable Lucas Hedges resumes his Sad Boy acting stretch (Ben is Back, Boy Erased) as the 22-year-old Otis, LaBeouf’s
surrogate. The opening shot starts with him on a movie set, pulled back by
harness and wire to an exploding plane (clearly alluding to LaBeouf’s Transformers
days). Otis then plunges into a hazy montage: flicking from set-to-set, smoking,
drinking, having sex, before finally circling into a car wreck.
rehab, he’s forced to think back to his relationship with his father, James, who
drove him to set every morning as a 12-year-old actor. James rocks a David
Foster Wallace look (long hair, bandanna, full moon glasses) and boasts his
glory days as a clown performer with a daredevil chicken. Young Otis is
the mature one in this tricky relationship, finding calm and
restraint during his father's various insults and outbursts and rages — it's a crushingly moving performance from child actor
between father and son grow with unstable, unpredictable emotions: James can
start being Otis’s buddy in one moment, then his manager, then his bully. One scene has Otis mediating a shouting match between his mum (another
tiny film role for Natasha Lyonne) and James over the phone: dictating
harsh details to each parent. It's a harsh and harrowing exchange, one that shows LaBeouf’s talents as a screenwriter.
of this unfolds like simply told social realism, but Har’el also delves
into a dark and somnambulant mind space. Otis moves into his various actor roles
with confusing multiplicity; Alex Somers’s clinky, clanky original score captures
his sadness and ties it with the various machinations of a film set. Both Otises
walk into dreams and fantasies to find the cause of their trauma, eventually
culminating in an ambiguous but touching resolve.
Boy acts as a kind of
apology/explanation for LaBeouf’s behaviour. He’s an easy celebrity to poke fun
at: he walked the red carpet with a brown paper bag on his head, watched all
his movies reverse-chronologically in 72 hours, and posted that bizarre ‘DO IT!’
motivational video on YouTube — among all the arrests for drunken misconduct. Honey Boy helps him move passed his trauma by letting go of his father's influence. And once we see
what Otis goes through, it’s no wonder why LaBeouf turned out like he did.
hard to know whether Honey Boy is an acceptable apology, but it certainly
brings a depth and understanding that didn’t exist before. It shows that
(often) crazy isn’t born, it’s moulded from birth. By the end, it’s hard not to
feel sorry for the strange case of Shia LaBeouf.
|What||Honey Boy review|
06 Dec 19 – 06 Dec 20, TIMES VARY
|Price||£ determined by cinemas|
|Website||Click here for more information|