Honey Boy Offers Hope, Love
and Forgiveness
Shia LeBeouf Revisits His Past Through Screenplay

DETROIT - The emotionally charged film "Honey Boy" is based on the tormented young life of actor Shia LaBeouf. Award-winning filmmaker Alma Har'el recreates the story of his tumultuous childhood. LeBeouf plays his father, named James Lort, and is an ex-rodeo clown who struggles with chemical dependencies. He raises a young son, Otis played by Noah Jupe, who aspires to be an actor. They live together in one room in a cheap run-down motel.

James works hard with young Otis and serves as his coach and mentor. At night he runs off to narcotics anonymous meetings and grows a secret marijuana garden near the expressway. He is short-fused and mentally abuses his son and rewards him with smoking privileges. Their dialogue is cringy and Otis's mother is only available in audio via the phone. Otis finds compassion with an older local neighbor girl in the motel complex. She seems to read him and gives him the love neither parent can offer. and is an emotional life raft. James is extremely obsessive and overprotective of his son. He throws a big brother counselor into the pool for taking an interest in Otis.

Otis appears as an adult and makes it as a movie actor. He has off-camera antics and violent episodes with drinking and driving. After almost killing himself and his girlfriend in a car wreck he seeks therapy. There are anger issues that appear in his adult life. Otis always seems defensive on the edge. He has twitchy movements and stares at people intensely when he speaks. His presence is very unnerving and uncomfortable. There are many unresolved issues in his past and he struggles to put his life together that makes sense.

The scene cuts back to when Otis was young and living with his father. James has a hard time communicating and feels like his son is going to a better place in life. He is offered a film shoot in Toronto. James feels like he is losing control and snaps and beats his son combined with yelling and threats. Otis buckles and we are witnesses to child abuse. James tries to blot out his loss of control and relapses into drugs. The film gets dark, dangerous and very ugly. But there is a serenity and dreamlike quality to brings beauty to balance it all out. That is the most unexpected part of watching Honey Boy, it is oddly appealing. Otis and his older girlfriends' relationships bring healing energy into his sad and tormented life. It is difficult to look away and as an audience, we wonder how this plot will resolve itself.

This movie didn't play in the theater very long but it was a gutsy tale to tell. How much of this screenplay is real? That is up for LeBeouf to reveal and he has talked about it in front of a live screening on Youtube. It took a lot of balls to tell this story and bring up the important issues of child abuse, substance abuse and how it can affect adult years. This is an important film and it has a message in it that we need to embrace and remember in our hearts. Love is the most important thing, so is forgiveness and that will bring healing.





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