By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

To anyone who has wondered what the deal is with Shia LeBeouf, the actor who has written this rather personal statement of who he is and why he’s had his share of personal turmoil. I suppose it has become easy to dismiss the actor as just another case of childhood celebrity trauna, but Honey Boy offers more personal and heartbreaking examples. Director Alma Har’el brings this powerful and affecting true story to cinematic life and is certain to enlighten everyone that Shia LeBeouf is a person with genuine feelings and and pain in his past.

Based on his own life experiences, Honey Boy tells the story of James Lort, a successful actor who began his career as a young boy. As an adult, James (Lucas Hedges) has his problems with alcohol and drug abuse. These addictions cause him to have an ugly run-in with the law and force him to take some time off for both psychiatric therapy and addiction rehab. As James goes through a program, he reflects upon his experiences as a child growing up with a deadbeat and addict of father and the pressures to be a continuous success as a comedic child performer. Written by LeBeouf, Har’el’s Honey Boy proves to be a heartfelt and emotionally moving statement by the actor. Written as an exercise while LeBeouf was in rehab, the movie not only serves as catharsis for its writer, it offers much intimate insight into the life of a talented actor who has struggled with and endured some abusive trauma. It is a a rather haunting, but bold and courageous piece that reveals the wounds of a real human.

LeBeouf has not only bravely written his story for a movie treatment, but has also chosen to star as the main source of his pain. LeBeouf gives an astonishing performance as his father, an acting accomplishment wbich is obviously a rather courageous feat. As the adult James Lort, Lucas Hedges shows once again why he is one of the more talented actors working in movies right now. As the child version of Lort, Noah Jupe shows some impressive acting prowess and range.

Honey Boy is definitely one of those low-key films which never get the level of attention it deserves. It is, however, a shining example of skillful filmmaking and powerful storytelling that deserves much love and attention. It also is a wonderful opportunity for Shia LeBeouf to reveal himself as the thoughtful, talented and vulnerable celebrity/artist that he truly is. It is a must-see for anyone who has easily dismissed LeBeouf as just another worthless hack.

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