It’s tough growing up in the spotlight, it seems to have taken it’s toll in recent years on Shia LaBeouf. The actor and self proclaimed ‘performance artist’ first graces our screens at the ripe age of 12 – but it was when he was 17, following the release of Holes (2003) that his star really took off. By his early twenties, the momentum had only continued to build and he was a box office magnet. The stress of his success and shame at choices he had made in his career (Transformers) amounted to an unfortunate public melt down which involved wearing a paper bag stating ‘I’m not famous’ to a red carpet event, the infamous plagiarism lawsuit in which he apologised for via a sky writer, and a stint of unoriginal performance art which was not greeted with a great reception from the art world, or the media in general. The public focus was shifted from his work to his questionable sanity by his self-indulged public displays and as a result his box office stock plummeted. He was no longer able to book leading roles in Hollywood blockbusters, which didn’t matter as he started a deliberate effort to take on roles in more quality films in a bid to show his true worth and be taken more seriously as an actor. He did this successfully in Lars von Treir’s Nymphomaniac in 2013 and also in Fury in 2014, though the stigma of his antics still remained.
It seems that taking this role in independent road-trip movie American Honey is the right step to reclaiming his integrity as an actor. The trailer portrays LaBeouf in possibly his most transformative and least annoying performance to date. American Honey follows Star (Sasha Lane), who joins Jake (LaBeouf) and a group of travelling misfits selling magazines to fund their partying across the Midwest. The group includes Riley Keough and McCaul Lombardi, a newcomer to keep your eye on.
American Honey’s charm seems to stem from Andrea Arnold‘s direction, who has taken a potentially crowd pleasing subject with themes of money and freedom and treated it with respect enough to produce what looks to be an exceptional celebration of life. It’s funny how easily I can forgive someone for armed robbery – I guess it’s all about intention. The trailer doesn’t look as romantic as these stills suggest, don’t worry.
American Honey is scheduled for release in October. You can watch the trailer below.
Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf in American Honey
Shia LaBeouf in American Honey