Honey Boy

“Avoid trauma reminders? My whole work requires and is motivated by trauma reminders.”


The autobiographical nature of Honey Boy is evident even if one didn’t know Shia LaBeouf wrote the script. Noah Jupe is suitably captivating as a twelve-year-old actor in the questionable care of his recovering alcoholic father, a failed entertainer. The highlight, however, is LaBeouf on excellent form effectively playing his own father consumed by seething resentment at everyone. The film suggests an intention to forgive his father’s flaws but the portrayal is uncompromising and honest, aided by the lo-fi presentation of this independently funded film. However, intercutting the story with an older Otis in court-mandated alcohol rehab, resisting therapists’ attempts to explore his childhood, does not work. LaBeouf seems to be justifying his own erratic behaviour but — without introspection by the older Otis (or indeed LaBeouf’s script) — there is nothing for the audience to learn from his experience. As the credits roll there is less a sense of catharsis than narcissism.