The story of Sundance so far is this: Shia LaBeouf could win an Oscar! That is a sentence many people might have thought impossible a few years back. But thanks to his deeply moving, tragic autobiographical film Honey Boy, it is clear LaBeouf has unbelievable talent.
Honey Boy is directed by Alma Har’el and is written by LaBeouf. It’s largely a cathartic 100 minutes of letting you delve into LaBeouf’s childhood, his heart wrenching relationship with his father and his recent bout with rage, addiction and depression that eventually sent him to rehab.
Lucas Hedges plays 22 year old Otis Lord as he battles with serious issues in rehab that his psychologist diagnoses as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These issues stem as a result of his non-traditional childhood as a very famous child actor. Sound familiar?
Young Otis is played by Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place, Wonder) who is absolutely fantastic. Most of the film is spent focusing on his childhood and his relationship with his Father James, played appropriately enough by LaBeouf.
LaBeouf is phenomenal as Otis’s recovering alcoholic father who resents the fact his son is his boss and is the one paying the bills. He struggles with not relapsing, with rage towards his son and his overall unhappiness with his life. He takes all of these issues out on his son and these scenes are incredibly hard to watch especially in context with seeing these effects on Otis in his adulthood.
The writing in this film is exceptional. The glimpse into LaBeouf’s childhood and relationship with his father is incredibly moving and at times uncomfortable.
What I’ll take away most is LaBeouf’s performance as his father. He creates a character that is so flawed, so hard, yet likeable. It shows that even through everything Shia still has a love for his father.
I hope this marks a turning point in LaBeouf’s life and career. He is an incredible talented, troubled soul and I hope there is much more great to come from him.