Writer and performer Shia LaBeouf works closely with filmmaker Alma Har’el on this artful and soul-baring examination of the lingering effects of emotional abuse.
Dir Alma Har’el
Prod Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Anita Gou, Christopher Leggett, Alma Har’el
Scr Shia LaBeouf
With Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe
UK Distribution Sony Pictures Releasing
Alma Har’el has been a filmmaker to get excited about ever since feverish regard for her stunning debut Bombay Beach spread like a wildfire through 2011. Here, she collaborates to impressive effect for her first dramatic feature with gifted writer and actor Shia LaBeouf. Together they deliver a potent and darkly beautiful story about a child actor with an unconventional and brutalising past. Lucas Hedges plays Otis, who makes a living starring in action films. He’s an alcoholic with a penchant for fiercely self-destructive behaviour. But when an accident forces him into rehab, he begins to examine his troubled past. We soon find ourselves in a sleazy motel with a young Otis (the breathtakingly good Noah Jupe), in the care of his unstable and often emotionally abusive father (an excellent LaBeouf, playing a version of his own real-life father). LaBeouf and Har’el have crafted a stunning, complex film, full of narrative and meta-narrative twists. ‘Write what you know’, is the screenwriting coach’s maxim, but few would have the courage to write with such bruising candour, nor the talent to do so with such grace and poignancy.