Honey Boy

Showing on Amazon Prime Video.

Directed by Alma Har’el, Honey Boy is written by and stars Shia LaBeouf and looks at the life of a young actor, Otis, and how his background and experiences have landed him in rehab for the fourth time.

LaBeouf wrote this while in rehab in 2017 and started filming it two weeks after he finished his treatment, so what we get is a very personal reflection on LaBeouf’s own life and struggles.

It’s a hard look at generational abuse and addiction told from two points of view, the majority is spent living the experiences of 12 year old Otis, played by Noah Jupe, living in a cheap motel with his father and then his 22 year old self, Lucas Hedges, in rehab, fighting the system, struggling to understand the value of the treatment and how it’s supposed to help him process his experiences.

This is not a fun watch, but that does not stop it been a worthwhile one. Anchored on 3 strong performances, especially LaBeouf and Jupe, it is a tough look at the challenges of childhood and parenting when the only experience is abusive and addictive behaviour.

What’s smart with Honey Boy, is its subtlety. The abuse and addiction is always subtle, on the surface it often looks like everyone is doing their best. His father aware of his demons is trying to support his son the best he can but as Otis looks back you realise how damaging his relationships have been and how hard it is to break the cycle.

This is a very personal story for LaBeouf but is a really well told one, with three excellent central performances that gain your sympathy and frustration, LaBeouf in particular, in equal measure.

A difficult and touching film but well worth checking out.

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