Two nights ago, I went to see Honey Boy in what turned out to be an empty theater. I had absolutely no expectations, being no particular fan of its lead/author, but knowing what tabloids do to people I have always reserved judgment on him.
In the end, I was glad the theater was empty, because I did quite a lot of undignified crying. I usually end up in this sort of state when I don’t feel that a film is crafted to manipulate my emotions, and when the aftermath of traumatic events is handled with a matter-of-factness and even a black humor.
Despite the singularity of the story being told, it has something for everyone who has been a screaming kettle of utter frustration and impotence witnessing others’ willful impasses in communication, or stood shivering outside the door of someone we knew was filled with potential but who nevertheless persisted in disappointing us over and over.
The wonder of the film is its spirit of forgiveness – but not a trite pop-cultural maxim of forgiveness… more the gentle resignation of a person whose cheeks are stiffened with drying tears, who has just accepted that this is all they’re going to get, that they can choose to reserve their memories of the good parts, and that they have grown beyond the borders of the bad parts.
After having this assessment underscored by Dylan’s “All I Really Want to Do” as the credits rolled along with Shia’s actual old family photos, I skulked out of the theater looking bug-eyed and a little destroyed. Not seeing the usual tray around, I glassily asked the attendant where to put my empty wine glass. He took it from me and said, “Good movie?”