Amazon Studios has released the first trailers for the upcoming autobiographical film Honey Boy. There’s both a red-band version and a green-band version of the film, which was written by Shia LaBeouf as a therapeutic exercise to work through issues stemming from his childhood. A Quiet Place breakout Noah Jupe plays the character of Otis Lort, a child actor working on an unnamed TV show (but it’s definitely Even Stevens) who lives with his hot-and-cold father in a motel. LaBeouf fills the role of Lort’s father, an overbearing man and former rodeo clown who vacillates between acting coach and abusive parent as he pushes Otis to the edge.
The trailer opens with the first scene from the movie, which I saw at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. In it we see Lucas Hedges as the grown-up Otis on the set of an unnamed blockbuster film, followed by a drunken traffic accident. Indeed, from here it was very clear that this is a deeply personal story for LaBeouf, as the parallels to his own life and Transformers are unmistakable.
As the quote from yours truly says in the trailer, I’ve never quite seen a film like Honey Boy. Director Alma Har’el brings almost a dreamlike quality to the proceedings, but there’s absolutely no way to ignore the personal implications of what’s being put onscreen. You’re watching LaBeouf play a version of his own abusive father, yelling and bringing down a young, innocent boy. It’s like watching someone’s therapy play out onscreen, and it’s a deeply strange experience. But as for the film itself, LaBeouf delivers a good performance, Jupe is incredible, and it’s crafted not as a piece of vanity but as an act of soul-baring.
Check out the Honey Boy trailer for yourself below and click here to read my full review from Sundance. The film also stars FKA twigs and opens in theaters on November 8th.
Here’s the official synopsis for Honey Boy:
From a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences, award-winning filmmaker Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach, LoveTrue) brings to life a young actor’s stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father and deal with his mental health. Fictionalizing his ascent to stardom, and subsequent crash-landing into rehab and recovery, Har’el casts Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place) and Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased, Manchester by the Sea) as Otis Lort, navigating different stages in a frenetic career. LaBeouf takes on the therapeutic challenge of playing a version of his own father, an ex-rodeo clown and a felon. Dancer-singer FKA twigs makes her feature-film debut, playing neighbor and kindred spirit to the younger Otis in their garden-court motel home. Har’el’s feature narrative debut is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between filmmaker and subject, exploring art as medicine and imagination as hope through the life and times of a talented, traumatized performer who dares to go in search of himself.