Director: Alma Har’el
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Noah Jupe, Lucas Hedges, FKA Twigs
Words – Eleanor Smith
Honey Boy is one of those films where after you see it, it sticks with you.
Based on Shia LaBeouf’s own experiences, Honey Boy allows us to explore his traumatic childhood and early career, as well as showing us the devastating impacts of early success.
The shocking and raw detail both written and performed by LaBeouf is a powerful account of PTSD, exploring how a negative upbringing can result in destructive behaviour later in life.
It emphasizes the damaging cycle, as James Lort (played by Shia LeBeouf) tells of how he had an abusive childhood, giving us an insight into why he treats his 12-year-old son, Otis (played by Noah Jupe), the way he does.
The role of being an actor plays an essential part in the film, as in one scene Otis calls his Father a liar in his attempt to fight back, yet James retaliates with, “you lie for a living.”
The part of ‘performing’ and not being true, living life behind a mask (like many victims), in order to survive is linked to throughout. The film offers an almost therapeutic release, to tell a story artistically, in order to be free from a traumatic past.
Alma Har’el delivers incredible direction in this narrative going deep into the psychology of these characters.
Har’el and LeBeouf obviously shared a similar view for the film, as LaBeouf’s onscreen performance is both raw and moving, with Har’el matching this aesthetically. Her understanding and empathetic approach towards the Father and son relationship within Honey Boy is highly emotive, as the strong bond between a parent and their child is highlighted, even if the relationship is abusive.
The performances from all the actor’s here are incredibly powerful. Noah Jupe displays an incredible and versatile talent depicting the young troubled child. Jupe and LaBeouf’s chemistry onscreen offers a realistic and harrowing view through the window of a traumatic past.
Stepping into the shoes of his own destructive Father, LeBeouf gives a phenomenal performance and delivers real impact in taking on the villain of his past.
An observation of a painful relationship between a troubled Father and son, Honey Boy is a modern masterpiece and a perfect example of emotional storytelling.