TIFF Review: Honey Boy

Honey Boy

Directed by Alma Har’el

Starring Shia LeBeouf, Lucas Hedges, and Noah Jupe

Synopsis: Written by Shia LeBeouf, this semi-autobiographical look at two aspects of his career (the names are changed); his rise as a child star in 1995 and his stint in rehab in 2005. 

Review: Honey Boy is a very interesting yet inconsistent film. The ideas of self-catharsis by writing the lowest point in your career to get your story out there is commendable, and LeBeouf’s script is well-written. If you have ever had a relationship with a family member that has caused mental damage to the point of PTSD, the idea of playing the person who has caused that trauma would probably be something that wouldn’t cross your mind. Hats off to LeBeouf for making this leap playing his father in the film, an ex-convict in rehab who only has a job because he’s his kids’ handler.

Lucas Hedges and Noah Jupe as the older and younger version of LeBeouf stand-in Otis are strong as well (both having now two great films at TIFF, Hedges with Waves and Jupe with Ford v Ferrari), with Hedges cementing his place as a go-to acting presence. The biggest issue with the film is the overall structure and the fact that this is far too short to give a full picture. The story mainly takes place with Otis’ stint in rehab in 2005, with the 1995 childhood moments as flashbacks and dream sequences. These sequences could have been interwoven into the overall story better, with the flashback parts being stronger than the rehab material. This isn’t a story of Otis getting clean, but rather his own personal discovery as to why he’s there in the first place. With ten more minutes of movie (the runtime is 95 minutes), or a better overall structure, this would have been a superb film. 

The Verdict: While not great, this is still a good film thanks to the strong lead performances. My grade for Homey Boy is a B, an is scheduled to be released in the United States and Canada on November 8th

Author: Sean Blanford

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