Film Review – Honey Boy (2019)

Title – Honey Boy (2019)

Director – Alma Har’el (LoveTrue)

Cast – Noah Jupe, Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, FKA Twigs, Maika Monroe, Clifton Collins Jr.

Plot – Actor Otis (Hedges) reflects on his time as a boy (Jupe) where he was raised by his eccentric and troubled father James (LaBeouf), a childhood that has now lead to a career marred by angry outbursts and symptoms of PTSD.

“She’s filling your head full of fear, I pump you up full of strength”

Review by Eddie on 10/03/2020

Forming a strong part of an early career renaissance for its star and writer Shia LaBeouf, alongside 2019 indie darling and breakout hit The Peanut Butter Falcon, Honey Boy is a deeply personal and confronting examination of LaBeouf’s childhood and relationship with his demanding and troubled father that is worth the price of admission to witness LaBeouf deliver one of his best turns in years (playing a version of his father) in partnership with a noteworthy childhood performance from emerging star Noah Jupe.

Made in collaboration with debut narrative filmmaker Alma Har’el, you can only imagine what type of wounds Honey Boy opened up for its at time troubled star but in what was surely a therapeutic and cleansing experience, Har’el and LaBeouf’s quietly devastating and uniquely structured film allows us to gain a better understanding of the somewhat illusive actor who has been a part of the Hollywood scene for the better part of two decades now, a career that has seen its fair share of ups and downs in regards to quality and personal life decision making.

For years on end it had appeared as though LaBeouf was destined for a sadly declining career progression but it’s a sight for sore eyes to see the talented performer get it all back on track again as he pours his heart and soul into the role of James Lort, whose mismanaged life and poor parenting skills takes its toll on both the young Otis and the older Otis played well by Lucas Hedges, who is one of the films most underutilized assets as the struggling movie star version of LaBeouf, who finds himself regressing due to his troubled childhood as an actor and son to Lort.

There’s not much of Honey Boy that conforms to usual movie storytelling as we go back and forward between Jupe’s and Hedges trials and tribulations, with those seeking a traditional way of plot developments and engagements sure to be left disappointed by a dreamlike film that does at times suffer from a lack of focus and clear direction in what can at times (particularly in a weakish middle section) be a distracting way of telling LaBeouf’s journey into the man that he is today.

There’s a lot of screen time devoted to Otis and James time staying at a divey motel, doing not a lot more than arguing about irrelevant things or Lort drinking or drugging himself into oblivion and while more than likely true to its based on reality happenings, these aspects don’t make for the most thrilling or engaging of elements to the film that at times feels as though it’s on a slow and pointless road to nowhere in particular.

When the emotional beats kick in however, moments such as Lort breaking down in front of Otis after a string of disappointing decisions or Hedges coming to terms with his PTSD symptoms, Honey Boy is a unique and insightful examination of growing up and parental relationships and with such great performances from its lead cast and a script that means a lot more in the context of its inspiration, Har’el and LaBeouf’s original offering stands up as a fine piece of independent filmmaking that is a must-watch for fans of one of the most unique characters operating in the Hollywood system.

Final Say –

A deeply personal, odd and sometimes confronting experience that is an open-book look into the early life and making of its star Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy doesn’t always work but its original approach to its material and string of strong turns make it a solid, if not always gripping watch.

3 highway garden plots out of 5   

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