Stars: Lukas Hedges, Shia LaBeouf, Noah Jupe, FKA Twigs
Written by and starring troubled actor Shia LaBeouf, this semi-autobiographical picture about a child star and his relationship with his irresponsible and volatile father initially sounds like another one of the actor’s narcissistic and pretentious art ‘projects’ (like wearing a paper bag over his head with ‘I’m not famous anymore’ emblazoned on it at the Berlin Film Festival for the premiere of ‘Nymphomaniac’), but this is actually a far more thoughtful and disarmingly honest piece. Jupe from ‘A Quiet Place’ plays LaBeouf surrogate Otis as a twelve-year-old child making a name for himself in acting; Hedges plays the older Otis struggling with his demons in therapy after a drug and drinks burnout. Most of the drama deals with young Otis living in a dilapidated motel with his single dad James (LaBeouf). A kindly prostitute (singer & dancer FKA Twigs) and her family are their only visible neighbours. Every day James runs Otis to the set of the boy’s latest acting gig, then proceeds to embarrass his son by hitting on one of the production staff or throwing a tantrum with the crew. Director Har’el invests the motel scenes with a fittingly appropriately woozy and half-remembered dreamlike air, but it’s LaBoeuf’s vanity-free performance as the be-mulleted James that’s the draw, a live wire mix of self-pitying, short temperedness, emotional neediness and jealously, but also exhibiting an undeniable affection for his son and a genuine rapport.