Make Me Look Good: Performing Love and Trauma in Honey Boy

A little boy, 12 years old, wearing sherbet yellow satin pyjamas is smoking a cigarette in his trailer. The hazy cloud exhaled from his lips cloaks the air with this misty blanket, getting mixed up with the golden light stretching through a tiny window. The image is so beautiful, but its implication, the root of it all, protrudes menacingly. He’s too young for this, why isn’t anyone looking out for him? It’s nowhere near too late, how has he not been raised otherwise? 

The boy is Otis Lort, played by Noah Jupe, a thinly veiled proxy for actor Shia LaBeouf. Even Stevens, Transformers, American Honey, Nymphomaniac – yes, that Shia LaBeouf. The actor pens his own story in Honey Boy, a still raw and deeply sensitive catharsis framing one boy’s early trauma through his precocious career and fragile relationship with an abusive father. In the film, Jupe plays Otis/Shia at 12, Lucas Hedges tags in to take on the role at 22. LaBeouf portrays James Lort, the film’s version of his own father. 

Read the full feature on Girls on Tops

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