Shia LaBeouf Ventures Further Into Arthouse Territory With 'American Honey'

Shia LaBeouf will star in Andrea Arnold's first U.S. feature film entitled "American Honey."

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Complex Original

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There's a moment in the first Transformers movie, as rooted in Spielbergian lunacy as it may be, wherein Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) proceeds to have a private discussion with an assortment of robots from the comfort of his bedroom window ledge. Against all odds, something remarkable happens onscreen. The effortless charm you might expect from a former Emmy-winning teenager is on full display, sure; but there's also something more. LaBeouf mastered something a lesser actor wouldn't even consider tapping into for a Michael Bay film — conviction. As ridiculous and progressively awful as the Transformers films certainly were, LaBeouf never played Sam Witwicky with the far easier Schwarzenegger brand of tough guy machismo, but instead imbued the character with a genuine wide eyed wonderment.

It was no real surprise, then, when LaBeouf started venturing into arthouse territory, most notably with a pair of Lars von Trier films entitled Nymphomaniac in 2013.  However, the shift hasn't been an overnight move of whimsy. LaBeouf was taking arthouse baby steps as far back as his Kid Cudi collaboration "Maniac" in 2011. Of course, quite a bit has happened to the metamodern mover and shaker since Transformers, but he seems the better for it. This is a guy who belongs in the arthouse gang, so to speak — and he now has even more credo with the announcement of his role in the forthcoming Andrea Arnold film American Honey. As previously reported, LaBeouf hits the big screen later this year with Man Down, which sounds like a slightly more traditional escapade through a timely post-apocalyptic story from Dito Montiel and newcomer Adam Simon.  Compellingly enough, neither of these characters seem to require a rattail — though we still consider LaBeouf a fashion god who quite possibly inspires everyone from Kanye West (see: skinnys and army boots) to Jaden Smith (see: existential tweets).

Protagonist Pictures hopes to secure buyers for American Honey at next month's Cannes Film Festival.


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