"Honey Boy" Is a Must Watch

“Honey Boy” is a 2019 film directed by Alma Har’el as her feature narrative debut with a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf. LaBeouf wrote the screenplay while in a rehabilitation therapy facility and is based on his complex childhood as a young actor. The film illustrates how the repercussions and trauma follow him throughout his adult life. “Honey Boy” is structured by two interchangeable timelines: one with LaBeouf playing his father as the role of James Lort managing over his son Otis (played by Noah Jupe) as he navigates being a young actor, and the other following young adult Otis (played by Lucas Hedges) during his time in a rehabilitation facility.

During his admittance at the rehabilitation facility, Otis is instructed to attend therapy for PTSD and encouraged to participate in exposure therapy. At first, he is in denial and refuses to engage in any activities. The film goes back and forth from being in the present and recounting memories as a young actor with an overbearing father.

During his childhood, Otis was categorized as the breadwinner; his father loomed over him and managed the life of Otis that James never had. They lived in a beaten-down motel complex in a one-bedroom that allowed no privacy. This created tension to overflow James and caused him to be aggressive/demanding due to the lack of space between the two. There are instances where James gets aggravated by Otis not memorizing lines or being too tired to rehearse that gradually increase from James picking on Otis: making him do push-ups and going to the extreme of being verbally and physically abusive. James’ treatment of Otis comes from his envy of his son’s success, the embarrassment of being financially dependent on his son, and his own trauma-inducing past that includes: being a formerly employed clown, former alcoholic, and convicted sex-offender.

Watching “Honey Boy” feels like intruding on an intimate dream. The actor's movements can be warm and tender; Otis and his neighbor softly press their palms together as a signal for unspoken understanding for one another. However, they can become rapid and violent, which is expressed when Otis and his father screaming at one another to the point where James snaps. If you are looking for a film that takes your emotions for a ride, I highly recommended watching “Honey Boy” on Amazon Prime. There are moments that will make you laugh, cry, and make you forget you are watching a movie until the screen goes black and you are left staring at your reflection with a head full of tangled thoughts.