File this one under your ever-expanding “WTF” tab. Following a series of genuinely redemptive performances in American Honey, Nymphomaniac, and the upcoming Borg vs. McEnroe, Shia LaBeouf is now looking to bring his life story to the big screen. THR is reporting that LaBeouf is currently gearing up to play his own father in Honey Boy, a quasi-biopic centered on LaBeouf’s relationship with his former clown and heroin-addict dad, beginning around the time the young actor was on Disney’s Even Stevens. Lucas Hedges, a standout performer in Manchester by the Sea and Lady Bird, is set to play the young LaBeouf in the picture, which will be directed by Alma Har’el, the promising filmmaker behind 2011’s excellent Bombay Beach.
This is a lot to take in. LaBeouf has been flirting with a kind of self-obsession for a long time now, spiking when he held court at New York’s Angelika theater for a massive marathon of his movies, in which a camera was trained on his face while he viewed the films. Even his well-meaning pieces at the Museum of the Moving Image eventually collapsed when he was unable to take criticism of his work, taking into consideration that a sizable number of those who criticized the actor’s project were with the alt-right. He’s also giddily spoken out against a number of co-workers and the movie industry, which was all well and good until it was clear that the central reason for these outbursts was to revamp his career following his work in the Transformers movies and other big-studio trash.
On the other hand, if all of this were to be ignored, the project would sound like a genuinely intriguing proposition. Har’el has yet to make a follow-up to Bombay Beach that builds on the dreamy, observational perspective of that film and if nothing else, LaBeouf, who co-wrote the screenplay for Honey Boy, has proven to be entirely supportive of directors that actually want to challenge him. It’s unclear what the narrative trajectory of the script will be but after winning a place on the infamous Black List, it was described as such: “A child actor and his law-breaking, alcohol-abusing father attempt to mend their contentious relationship over the course of a decade.”
In truth, the movie could either prove to be another surprisingly substantial work in an increasingly revitalized career or an act of backsliding into a realm of navel-gazing. Fingers crossed that it turns out to be the former.