Honey Boy ★★★★★(2019) Will Leave You Empty. In a Good Way.

Honey Boy is written by and stars Shia Labeouf. In it, he plays a version of his father in this semi-autobiographical and semi-fictional retelling of his own experiences growing up as a child actor. The screenplay was written by Shia while he was attending court-mandated therapy where he was diagnosed with PTSD. It is the directorial debut of Alma Har'el.

“Honeyboy,” is a catharsis of emotional grief being dumped and pumped out of you. The film feels personal because it is. The viewing experience of this film is a forced reflection on idiosyncratic childhood trauma that Otis (Lucas Hedges) is neglectful towards; The trauma is in fact based on the actual life experiences and real-life father of Shia Labeouf. We see this reflection through the eyes of an older Otis who is ordered by a judge to attend rehab after one too many drunken encounters with the law. The emotional tug of war that this film puts it’s viewers through works best when it’s transitioning between Otis as an older adult and his flashbacks to a childhood version of himself (Noah Jupe) to an apartment where he lived with his “shit father,” James (Shia Labeouf) prior to making it in Hollywood.

Hedges and Jupe are revelational. Their individual portrayals of Otis will cripple your emotions; It works in ways that are therapeutic and gloriously eye-watering. This film also stars FKA Twigs as Shy Girl, a prostitute who develops a maternal relationship with Otis (Jupe) at seemingly critical moments where his character is trying to grow but is smashed into a wall. Otis is a character that shows a range of social emotion such as when he sensibly recognizes shy girls’ pain and goes out of his way to get her a cigarette. Their first emotional encounter comes during a social visit from Jupe’s assigned big brother, Tom (Clifton Collins Jr). Tom vs James is a showdown of what it means to be a parent which comes to a boil when Tom passively confronts James for giving Otis a cigarette. In these moments of oblivious innocence, Honeyboy shines. This film is more than just a father and son, it is a memory and its mental impacts on a young man.

Shia Labeouf as James Lort.

“My father only ever gave me one thing- and you want to take that away?” (In reference to pain) - Otis (Hedges) to rehab therapist.

This film’s soundtrack, story, and all-around amazing performance from its cast makes it a staple film of 2019 you shouldn't miss. You will finish this film emotionally broken and feeling empty of a childhood trauma you never had.

© 2023 by Giorgio Citarella II