For probably the most half, actors enjoying public figures, the sort of performing the Academy tends to reward, is neither as tough nor as attention-grabbing because it’s cracked as much as to be. A minimum of, that’s what I believed earlier than I noticed Lucas Hedges play Shia Labeouf in Honey Boy. Possibly it’s as a result of we’ve been uncovered to a lot extemporaneous Shia over time (off-the-cuff Labeouf, say) — the meltdowns, the publicity stunts, the oddball movies — however watching Hedges, a man who doesn’t actually look something like Labeouf, undertake his jerky mannerisms and embody his manic aura… it’s rattling close to a magic trick.
Everything I believed I’d forgotten about Shia Labeouf’s public persona comes speeding again with each Hedges twitch and tremor. The remainder of the body melts away and I sit in mesmerized silence at this superb, uncanny weirdo. What peculiar circumstances collide to provide an individual like this? Ahh, however, that’s what we’re about to seek out out.
Honey Boy is Shia Labeouf’s life story, see, or so we’re inspired to consider, written by LaBeouf and directed by Alma Har’el, based on the credit. The movie opens on Hedges, as “Otis Lort,” shouting “No no no no no no!” on the set of a motion film earlier than a pulley system connected to his chest yanks him using fog of pretending smoke for an explosion shot. It’s nice marionette imagery, and besides, hey, Transformers, do not forget that?
This can change into one department of Honey Boy‘s two parallel storylines — 2009 Otis Lort, performed by Hedges, crashing his automobile, mangling his hand, and getting despatched to rehab in a single (do not forget that??), and 12-year-old Otis Lort, performed by Noah Jupe, residing in a seedy motel together with his flaky-yet-intense, unpredictable ex-rodeo clown of a father in one other. In comparison with all the opposite “daddy points” tales on the market — watered down and stepped on, filtered using Alan McKee, become hero’s journeys and despatched to the area — Honey Boy is like sucking on a reside electrical wire. It’s introspection in its rawest type.
Labeouf’s barely fictionalized father, James Lord — performed by Shia himself, bald on prime with shoulder-length hair and spherical glasses, wanting like Straightforward Rider by the use of John Lennon with a splash of each ’70s serial killer you’ve ever seen — slaps Otis round occasionally, slips into drug use, brags about his massive dick, and is a constant embarrassment. However, that trauma is sort of secondary to the straightforward reality of his normal unpredictability. James’ moods speed up like a Lamborghini, variously charismatic, apathetic, wounded, scheming — a motor-mouthed bullshitter in its purest type (he can also breathe out of his nostril due to previous cocaine use, one thing Labeouf communicates together with his efficiency lengthy earlier than his character says it out loud).
You simply can’t plan for this man. It’s laborious to think about one thing extra shattering to an individual’s nerves than having to reside with an individual like this, the sort of man who corners service staff and traps anybody inside earshot in a barrage of unearned ball-busting and coarse dad jokes. Honey Boy is sort of a contest for who’s extra mesmerizing, Labeouf as his personal nightmare father or Hedges because of the manic offspring.
It helps that Honey Boy manages to be each Labeouf’s private story (or… so we’re led to consider) and a pleasant mash-up of already bankable genres: the semi-fictionalized actor memoir (see: Woman Fowl, mid90s), the unpredictable dad memoir (The Glass Citadel, This Boy’s Life, Liar’s Membership, Captain Improbable), and the rehab memoir (Don’t Fear He Gained’t Get Far On Foot, A Million Little Items, Woman Interrupted). Understanding what we all know about Labeouf’s previous penchant for plagiarism, it’s truthful to surprise how a lot of Honey Boy truly is Shia Labeouf’s private story and the way a lot is a camera-ready story arc ginned up for awards season.
On that rating, Labeouf and Har’el appear to trace at a proof. At one level, Otis (aka Younger Shia, performed by Jupe) rages about his father’s AA storytelling: “His share tales aren’t even his, they’re simply an amalgamation of different peoples’ share tales!”
In one other emotional second, Labeouf (as his father) sputters “You needed the true shit? That is it. Metallic rusts, wooden rots. No person desires that. It’s solely the tales that reside on — fables.”
They appear to be subtly making the case for fictionalization and pastiche even within the context of an overtly autobiographical story — one that features the requisite household pictures of Shia and his dad throughout the finished credit (receipts, in fashionable web parlance). It’s additionally a tacit justification for what we’ve already intuited: whether or not this story is true issues far lower than whether or not it feels true.
We’ve seen a whole lot of tales form of like Honey Boy, however hardly ever so intense and so mesmerizing. There’s a pleasure to watching Lucas Hedges play Shia or Shia play his father that transcends the story round it. I’d most likely watch Hedges carry out as Shia at a county truthful. Shia as his father, Hedges as grownup Shia, Jupe as child Shia are all so good that you just rapidly overlook who’s enjoying who and seamlessly settle for the movie’s actuality. In the meantime, it’s acquired Clifton Collins Jr. and Laura San Giacomo in memorable supporting roles and FKA Twigs in a breakout efficiency as Younger Shia’s neighbor and mom determine (I’ll be sincere, I didn’t actually know who FKA Twigs was earlier than this, however with a reputation like FKA Twigs it seems like I ought to have).
Honey Boy crystallizes every little thing Shia Labeouf’s efficiency artwork persona from 2009 till now gave the impression to be making an attempt to say: that authenticity and authorship are boring issues in comparison with perception and emotional reality.