Shia LaBeouf -in a live-wire show that leaps off screen, plays a version of his loose-cannon dad in Honey Boy which leaves Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges to play two different levels of the artist in his early years, at ages 12 and 22, respectively. Names have changed likely to safeguard the rights to poetic license. However, it’s clear that the child, who is referred to as Otis and his father, a fiery rodeo performer and recovering addict referred to by the name of James Lort, are drawn from real life. The two James and Otis are able to avoid one another in a shabby Los Angeles apartment complex -the headquarters for Otis as he creates films and TV shows, and his dad acts as his unlikely father’s protector — the film depicts the abusive relationship between father and son that can still allow for affection.

Produced and directed by Alma Har’el of LaBeouf’s enthralling Rorschach of script Honey Boy is real and live-in when it spins around through different time periods. The fact that it is so successful is a testament to Har’el the director from Israel, who is the director of documentaries including Bombay Beach and LoveTrue The latter was produced executive by LaBeouf. He was able to sense Har’el could bring the perfect mix of reality and fiction to help his story take off on the screen.

It does. Har’el adds a sense of extreme reality to the images of Otis performing on the set as a young man and boy. He is strapped into a harness for an action sequence that’s difficult to perform, Otis looks to his father, who is often attracted by the extras or figuring out ways to take some money off his son’s pay. The film flashes back to reveal Otis’s more mature Otis (Hedges is astonishably excellent) trying to work out his anger issues as well as drinking disorders through rehabilitation — a reference to LaBeouf’s past experiences in what he describes as “head camp.” LaBeouf’s career as a performing artist performing on the red carpet with a paper bag over his head and written on it that says “I am not famous anymore” -is going to need to wait until a future film. The truth is that LaBeouf’s popular and his film work such as Nymphomaniac, American Honey and The Peanut Butter Falcon is being lauded. However, his role as a reincarnation of his father could be his most difficult and compelling film to this point.

LaBeouf has stated that the film was written by him Honey Boy as an attempt to treat himself and it’s played this wayas if the solution to the issues Otis confronts can be found in the language of rehab. However, the most memorable scenes in the film are in the younger Otis Jupe’s performance is stunningin which affection, humor and brutal reality struggle to live together. We witness Otis seek out comfort from an elderly neighbor who is a sex-worker and a fellow victim of abuse performed by singer FKA Twigs. Also, there’s an ineffective Big Brother (Clifton Collins Jr.) that is orchestrated by his mother, who is employed in a different city. It doesn’t matter. The truth is that it’s James who is often the sole recourse for the boy. The frustration of watching a child struggle with a flawed adult who is apathetically resentful of the work he does for his son and doesn’t take his best interests into consideration yet still does everything to support him without hesitation is at the heart story of the film Honey Boy. It’s a film that understands it’s in its bones that there aren’t any easy solutions. It’s just the human struggle to find a connection. It’s the vision of an unadorned, simple life, set against the backdrop of Hollywood film and makes the connection so powerful that viewers don’t ever want to let it go.

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