Shia LaBeouf -in a live-wire show that leaps off screen version of his loose-cannon dad in Honey Boy and leaves Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges to represent two scenes of the artist’s life as a young man aged between 12 and 22. Names have changed likely to safeguard the rights to poetic license. There’s no doubt that the child, who is referred to as Otis and his father, a hot rodeo performer and recovering addict, known by the name of James Lort, are drawn from real life. In the scene, James and Otis are able to avoid each other in a decrepit Los Angeles apartment complex -as the headquarters of Otis when he is making films and TV shows, and his dad acts as his unlikely father’s protector — the film is a satire on an abusive father-son relationship which can still allow for affection.
Produced and directed by Alma Har’el from LaBeouf’s gripping Rorschach in a screenplay Honey Boy is real and live-in when it spins around across different time frames. The fact that it is so successful is a testament to Har’el who was an Israeli-born director of documentaries including Bombay Beach and LoveTrue The latter was produced executive by LaBeouf. He was able to sense Har’el could bring the perfect mix of reality and fiction to let his story shine on the screen.
That’s right. Har’el conveys an extreme reality to the images of Otis in the set as a man and boy. He is strapped into a harness for an action sequence that’s difficult to perform, Otis looks to his father, who is often attracted by the extras or plotting ways to slash the cash out of the salary of his son. The film flashes to show an younger Otis (Hedges is astonishingly excellent) trying to work out his anger issues as well as drinking disorders through rehabilitation — a reference to his own experiences in what he describes as “head camp.” LaBeouf’s career as a performing artist in red carpet, wearing a bag on his head , with writing that reads “I am not famous anymore” -will need to wait until a future film. The reality is that LaBeouf is well-known and his film work such as Nymphomaniac, American Honey and The Peanut Butter Falcon has been praised with aplomb. But, playing a character of his father may be his most difficult and compelling film to the present.
LaBeouf has stated that He wrote Honey Boy as an exercise in therapy and at times it is played that wayas if the solution to the challenges Otis is facing could be found in rehabilitation-speak. The most dramatic scenes in the film are alongside the young Otis Jupe’s performance is stunningin which affection, humor and brutal reality struggle to be a part of the same. We watch Otis seek out comfort from an older friend as well as a sex worker and a fellow victim of abuse performed by singer FKA Twigs. Also, there’s an ineffective Big Brother (Clifton Collins Jr.) who is arranged by his mother, who is employed in a different city. Whatever. The truth is that it’s James who is usually the only option for a boy. Being a kid who has to deal with a flawed adult who is apathetically resentful of being a father figure who isn’t interested in his own best interests and still does everything to support him without hesitation is the premise the storyline of the film Honey Boy. The film knows deep down that there is no simple solutions. The human struggle to connect. It’s the vision of a simple, unadorned life, set against the backdrop of Hollywood film and makes the connection so powerful that viewers don’t ever want to let it go.