Features and Columns

How to Read ‘Honey Boy’ as an Act of Forgiveness

Here’s a video essay on why ‘Honey Boy’ operates on empathy.
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By  · Published on June 18th, 2020

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Shia LaBeouf describes the experience of making Honey Boy with the same phrase that defined his experience in rehab: the way in is through. For LaBeouf, there is very little difference between Honey Boy and therapy. After being arrested for public intoxication in Georgia, where he was shooting The Peanut Butter Falcon, LaBeouf attended a court-ordered 10-week rehab program. He was diagnosed with PTSD and during stream-of-consciousness writing exercises, the script for Honey Boy began to take shape. The film began shooting two weeks after LaBeouf was released from rehab.

Honey Boy is a lightly fictionalized account of LaBeouf’s relationship to his father during the time he and his dad lived in a seedy motel while the young actor starred on the Disney Channel sitcom Even Stevens. In the film, LaBoeuf’s father is played by Shia himself. As the video essay below suggests, LaBeouf’s decision to look through his dad’s eyes at one of the darkest periods of his own childhood is an incredible act of compassion.

Honey Boy is a film about a man trying to make sense of his own life by extending honesty and empathy to his family, to his audience, and to himself. It is an attempt to find peace through recognition. And inasmuch, it is a rare film where the act of creation and the final product are equally remarkable.

You can watch “Honey Boy: Shi LaBeouf’s Act of Forgiveness” here:

Who made this?

Frames of Empathy has been releasing video essays over the last year. You can follow them on YouTube here.

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If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.

If you or someone you know is seeking help for substance use, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357).

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.