Film: Honey Boy Cast: Shia Labeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe, FKA Twigs
Directed by: Alma Har’el
Distributed by: Amazon Studios
Review by: Jessie Carlson
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 x’s
Inspired by actor, Shia Labeouf’s real life, Honey Boy is a raw and introspective film that explores the tainted relationship between a young child star and his father. Written by Labeouf as a form of therapy during his time in court-ordered rehab the transparent nature of the story is beautifully cathartic. The film is centered around Otis, a child star whose traumatizing youth has led to drunken outrages that wind up getting him admitted to a rehab center in his 20s. Adult Otis is diagnosed with PTSD and part of his healing process is being forced to revisit his memories of living in a motel with his father whilst filming an Even Stevens-esc show. With a hazy, reminiscent hue looming over each shot, Honey Boy r eveals Labeouf’s terribly unglamourous reality of rising and falling as a Hollywood star.
In case it wasn’t ballsy enough to share incredibly intimate details of his life, Labeouf showcases an honest performance as his abusive father. With a balding hairline and a stuffed gut, he is transformed into a complex man whose behavior will go on to have a deep impact on his son’s life. A rich and powerful performance doesn’t stop with Labeouf as actors Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges star as young and adult Otis respectively. Both take on the emotionally-intense task of expressing Otis’s deep-rooted, confusing trauma and struggle of coming to terms with his life and relationship with his estranged father. Jupe has a show-stopping performance with a range and depth that is well beyond his years. He is able to show a level of maturity in the character while still holding on to a sliver of that humorous innocence of a child. Labeouf and Jupe have an intimate chemistry that despite their character’s circumstances, you can’t help but love to watch.
It’s true that the film has it’s lulls of dialogue heavy, slow-paced moments that tend to drag on. But that’s part of the point. This is a story about real life and real people, it can’t always be filled with jam packed excitement because that’s not how life works. Director Alma Har’el is able to piece together these precise and fragile snip-its of love, drugs, barbeques by the pool and acting in a tv show in a way that is sincere. She has a powerful vision and with such delicate subject matter she finds a way to show the beauty in the ugly, the love in the hate, the funny in the pain and the right in the wrong. Even if you’re a stone-cold brick of a person who doesn’t cry in public, I can almost guarantee that you’ll be welling up inside when you see the fucked up, pull-at-your-heartstrings love between Otis and his father.
Now again, this film is incredibly meta with it being a semi-fictional depiction of the life of Shia Labeouf. It takes a magnified look into the star’s experience, showcasing an ugliness that that up until now was locked behind a dingy motel door. If you have paid any attention to the life of
Shai Labeouf these past few years, you would know he has done some crazy and weird shit. This film gives a little insight as to why and how this man got to that point.
A word to the wise, if you’re the type of person who goes to the theater for blockbuster films with constant action, superb CGI visuals and a stacked A-list cast, I think it’s safe to say this isn’t your film. Think of Transformers and then think of the complete opposite of that, and that’s HoneyBoy.
However, if the entertainment industry, the captivatingly weird Shia Labeouf, or the first ever dare-devil chicken sparks even the slightest tinkling of interest for you, this is a worthwhile film to go see.