The character James Lort wisely tell us in Honey Boy—new from Amazon studios—that the most we can learn from the past is where we come from. He tells the boy in question that he comes from a long line of alcoholics who drank to hide the pain. While posing the question what you gonna do about it?
Whatever the role you ask someone to play in your life, it’s helpful to understand that this expectation is a grievance. It does’t matter how legitimate your claim may be! This sense of entitlement—that someone owes you a performance, nuanced or overt, that will reinforce your desired self-concept, is a form of attack. In a world of duality where victims and victimizers line up on identity parade, in big versus small and adult versus child, the delineation once questioned is not so clear.
In a beautiful self-portrait, Honey Boy depicts not just the story of one man’s life, but of a mind’s desire for peace and completion. Father and son roles are reversed for Shia LaBoeuf as he whole heartedly plays his own dad in this touching biopic. What differs from most self-conscious healing stories of childhood abuse / neglect is the free-will choice continuously exemplified by Otis (LaBoeuf’s alter-ego in the story). At age 11 he hired his father to become his chaperone and yet despite his obvious incompetence he continues to employ James in order to work out his own desire to have this man in particular take on a more caring, fatherly role. As he says, he’s been waiting a long time for it to happen.
Life and art imitate and substitute (for each other) by playing out this desire. At all times it is a conscious decision by both parties to be joined in the unfolding drama. Together adult and child work out beliefs in harshness and unnecessary drama. Alone they harbor a secret grievance that if the other just honored the role they were asked to play they would have peace. Eventually Otis decides to do what others in the history of his family have failed to do, and that is end the cycle of pain and confusion by accepting total responsibility for his life, while putting a pin in the endless game of “toss-the-grenade.”
This is a film without finger-pointing. A movie without malice and a masterpiece of true forgiveness. James never claims to be more than a rodeo clown, practiced at distracting bulls and entertaining crowds. Laying himself bare to take hit after direct hit, he works out his own lost hopes and dreams of stardom and “being somebody” by taking the role of chaperone to his 11-year-old budding movie star kid. In turn the young boy employs this ex-con clown to play his father, someone he can heartbreakingly allow to let him down again and again. Therefore frustrating his endless desire to be the cosseted child when he obviously has the greater awareness and presence of mind of the two characters. After all he’s “the boss!”
All too often, the challenge of our interpersonal relationships is the relegation of true intimacy to static role play. That’s the difference between special relationship and Holy Relationship because assignments (sometimes life-long) are given to thwart such sleepwalking. Each interaction in a Holy Relationship challenges both the set role and the presumption that things would be better if they were different. Awakening is highly individualized and divine providence is everything you need for awakening – freely given.
Otis says he wants his father’s input on his career because he has good instincts. In spending time with someone so crushingly transparent (obviously not good dad material / role model material), Otis hones his skills as a natural actor “pretending to be somebody every day.” “Everyone lies” Otis says glibly as he enters Rehab. But rest assured Shia LaBeouf sincerely seeks for true intimacy and the truth in every scene, on screen, off camera and in the script in this heartfelt memoir.
Director Alma Har’elhis’ new movie is a tour de force of acting, and an absolutely stunning portrayal of homecoming and true forgiveness. Honey Boy is in the cinemas now and on-demand via Amazon later.
It’s a beautiful experience to watch this with others ~ give yourself the gift of forgiveness this Holiday season. For a cathartic Christmas go see Honey Boy in a movie theater now.
This Spiritual movie review is for educational purposes only all images belong to the producers: Automatik, Stay Gold Features and Delirio Films and distributor: Amazon Studios
When we insist that one particular person in our lives must behave a certain way to make us feel better about ourselves, we are setting up a false cause and effect loop to make sure we never get to feel that way. That is the egos trick, and the endless cycle of “seek and do not find” of the world.
“The ego is certain that love is dangerous, and this is always its central teaching. It never puts it this way; on the contrary, everyone who believes that the ego is salvation seems to be intensely engaged in the search for love. Yet the ego, though encouraging the search for love very actively, makes one proviso; do not find it. Its dictates, then, can be summed up simply as: “Seek and do not find.” This is the one promise the ego holds out to you, and the one promise it will keep. For the ego pursues its goal with fanatic insistence, and its judgment, though severely impaired, is completely consistent.” ( T-12.IV.1. A Course in Miracles)