Honey Boy

Oh, how easily this could’ve gone sideways. There’s nothing more cringingly embarrassing than a privileged white artist depicting their tragic life on film, forcing their audience to wallow alongside them in their self-serving importance. But in Honey Boy—a mostly autobiographical depiction of Transformers star Shia LaBeouf’s scary upbringing as a child actor—there’s so much more. In a dazzling, heartbreaking performance, LaBeouf portrays his real-life father, a recovering addict, Vietnam vet, and frustrated performer who’s in the witheringly humiliating position of being employed by his successful 12-year-old son, Otis (a fantastic Noah Jupe). Running parallel are harrowing scenes featuring an adult Otis (Lucas Hedges), who’s working out some well-earned and very deep shit in rehab while trying to stave off an emotional implosion. Dreamy imagery from director Alma Har’el and cinematographer Natasha Braier brilliantly captures this slow-motion train wreck of a tale that, weirdly enough, supplies a modicum of hope while depicting the toxicity that fathers inflict on their sons—and what results from the poison they inherit.

by Wm. Steven Humphrey
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Alma Har'el
Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe