I’ve been watching Shia LaBeouf since he made his Disney Channel debut on Even Stevens. A kid so talented he was scooped up by Hollywood and exploited like many a young child star. We’ve seen him shine and fall from grace and make some of the wildest career moves. But remove that veneer and you have a genuine artist.
Honey Boy is LaBeouf’s screenplay. It tackles his tumultuous upbringing without a real sugarcoating. The verbal and emotional abuse he had to endure must have been astronomical. It all makes sense when you see the scenes between him and Noah Jupe. Their on-screen dynamic is effortless. Lucas Hedges, who I have had my eye on since Zero Theorem, is phenomenal as the 2005 version of Otis. His combative attitude seems like second nature and I can easily see LaBeouf saying and doing the exact same things. Hedges makes you feel like he did one hell of a character study of his creator. Noah Jupe as young Otis is a breath of fresh air. He is something special. He exudes innocence. LaBeouf is playing his father. He is vulnerable, scary, aggressive, and heartbreaking. You can never say this man isn’t spectacularly talented.
Director Alma Har’el has created one of the most satisfying films of the year. The way she handles LaBeouf’s material is beautiful, quirky, fun, and heartfelt. This script is catharsis on film. The juxtaposition of scenes in 1995 and 2005, with stunning lighting and cinematography, is wonderful. LaBeouf has opened every wound and laid it all out. It’s gorgeous misery and you’ll want to remain present for it. Honey Boy is a triumph.
Honey Boy opens in theaters Nationwide today, Dec 6th.