In his first feature film as screenwriter, Shia LaBeouf also stars this year in the drama and somewhat autobiographical film, Honey Boy. Along with LaBeouf, director Alma Har’el in her directorial debut tells the story of a child star (played by Noah Jupe) attempting to mend his relationship with his law-breaking, alcohol-abusing father (LaBeouf) over the course of a decade. It’s loosely based on Shia LaBeouf’s life, who actually wrote the script as a form of therapy while in rehab.
Watch It: If you want to see a unique and personal perspective on a damaged childhood in a more serious drama.
Skip It: If you expect to have comedy and a standard film length. (I was surprised when the film cut to credits at an hour and 25 minutes.)
Honey Boy has much within its short runtime to be commended. LaBeouf, for writing his first feature, has crafted a script that is raw, where we believe much of what is said, truly coming from memory and out of the struggles he had while in rehab. Though he uses conventional devices that fit a coming-of-age story, they feel seamless to the story, running along a smooth continuity.
Honey Boy suffers a bit in the form of its runtime though, in fact. While 85 minutes has nothing to do with the critique (plenty of masterpieces have had this short of a runtime), this live action film never felt quite fully-formed. With hindsight, the events that occur near the end of the film didn’t feel as though we were nearing the end. There is an ending, no doubt. Yet the ending doesn’t feel all too climactic. Many, like myself, may be a bit stunned when the credits roll.
This aside, Honey Boy also boasts a beautiful film score and superb acting. Shia LaBeouf, essentially playing his father, Noah Jupe, playing a fictional LaBeouf around age 12, and Lucas Hedges, playing a fictional LaBeouf around 22, all deliver gripping and poignant performances, performances that will leave most of us sympathetic towards LaBeouf’s childhood. Through seeing the film, LaBeouf’s father is now on somewhat better terms with his son. That’s enough to recommend a viewing of Honey Boy.
Zimm Score: 7.3/10
Now streaming on Amazon Prime, The Report is a journalistic docudrama that follows staffer Daniel Jones (played by the busy Adam Driver) and the Senate Intelligence Committee as they investigate the CIA’s use of torture following the September 11 attacks. As the plot develops, so does the 6,700-page report that Jones compiled during the investigation.
Watch It: If you want to catch a drama that seeks accuracy and you’re a fan of the public policy setting in films, this as a journalistic film on the level of Spotlight.
Skip It: If you don’t want to witness the enhanced investigation techniques (EIT) used against Arab detainees. The film skillfully uses both dialogue and visuals in tandem to display the torture these men experienced.
2019, at least in comparison to last year, has offered a plethora of quite remarkable films. The Report is yet another that joins this company. Many have stated how crowded the awards season will be, without enough room for these great films. This docudrama places actor Adam Driver in top-notch form, as passion increases throughout the film inside of his real-life character with everything he uncovers.
The work behind the camera by director Scott Z. Burns displays surprisingly aesthetic shots of quite ordinary and somewhat dated buildings that exist in the nation’s capital. Accomplished actress Annette Bening also gives a believable and polished portrayal of Senator Dianne Feinstein, as she supervises the work (and emotions) of staffer Daniel Jones.
The Report gets a big recommendation from me if you’ve noticed it on Amazon but haven’t been sure if you want to check it out. Though the dialogue at times may be a bit on-the-nose and the plot line loses a bit of momentum in the second half, there’s a moving finale that will bring some to tears, a film score well-attuned to each scene, and a remarkable delivery by Adam Driver in the lead role. The Report rightfully sheds light on a fearful and panicked time in America’s history that we’ll be the better for by understanding more acutely.
Zimm Score: 8.4/10