There’s no such thing as the “perfect childhood” and that notion is explored to the extreme in the loose autobiographical expose Honey Boy, from filmmaker Alma Har’el and drawn from the real-life experiences of Shia LeBeouf, who adapted this film to the screen.
The character Otis is based on the real-life LeBeouf, chronicling his time as an emerging child actor and the film is a depiction of his abusive and turbulent relationship with his father, James. Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges play the young actor at different stages of LeBeouf’s life and his fall from stardom, while LeBeouf plays the role of his father who is a failed rodeo-clown turned felon.
Honey Boy is the product of LeBeouf’s therapy as he grapples with controlling his addiction and his mental ailments and the film sets out to be a method of coming to terms with who and what brought him to such a low point in his life and career. In watching it play out, and deliver such honesty on this subject, I will say it held my attention and warranted my appreciation.
Alma Har’el’s feature-length debut is certainly takes audiences on a journey you will not love or hate, but learn something. I felt that she allowed LeBeouf to tell his story, his truth, in this picture and let the audience make up their collective minds about who LeBeouf is as a person and/or celebrity, and what I came away with is that, yes, he had a rotten excuse of a father, and he is at least facing up to that and his offenses and his conditions and I came away impressed with how Har’el told this story with such bare honesty.
LeBeouf laid his life out there for the world to see in this film and his performance in this picture is exceptional! He is heartbreaking, he is menacing, he steps into his father’s skin, warts and all, and just played the role without fear or remorse; I believe that this is the best work he has ever done, especially since he’s in a place where he’s trying to get his life back on track. His writing and his performance is top-notch.
Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges are outstanding. They play the same character at different stages in life but they portray the pain and the hardship Otis endures so well that it feels natural.
The rest of the cast does a fine job as well from Laura San Giacomo, to Byron Bowers, FKA Twigs, Clifton Collins Jr., Natasha Lyonne, Maika Monroe, this is a decent cast of supporting characters.
Alex Somers’ music is fine, Natasha Braier’s cinematography is lovely, Dominic LaPerriere and Monica Salazar did a great job with the editing, Jc Molina’s production design is excellent, Tatiana van Sauter and Maynard Carleton Virgil II’s set decoration was great, the makeup team did a great job, Natalie O’Brien did good with the costumes, the technical appeal of Honey Boy was very true to form at trying to shed light on a troubled past.
I came away from Honey Boy enlightened. I can’t say whether or not I loved or hated it but I appreciated and acknowledged its truth.