Brace yourselves: if you had a hard time accepting Shia LaBeouf’s transition from Even Stevens neighbor boy to Transformers hero-hunk, you might not know what to make of his latest incarnation.
As part of the Mystery Film Experiment put on by Icelandic band Sigur Rós, director Alma Har’el cast LaBeouf to appear in a low-budget short inspired by “Flögur Píanó,” the final track from the group’s new album, Valtari. Rife with nudity, masochism, modern dance and drag, the video finds LaBeouf in the throes of a very confused relationship with a severe-looking blonde (Denna Thomsen). We can’t be sure what exactly their deal is, but we’re pretty sure it’s not healthy.
Bugs are an important metaphor here: between the psychedelic scorpion lollipops that send the couple through some intense underwater hallucinations, and the butterflies that disappear and reappear on the walls of their bedroom each day (only to be smashed in bouts of intense anger), LaBeouf and his Nordic co-star look to be caught in a violent cycle of desire and addiction. What kind of desire and addiction, we can’t really say. The band’s bassist, Georg Holm, admits that he has yet to totally grasp the material, but loves it nonetheless. “It is so full of ideas and confusion,” he says. “It’s a puzzle.”
Even without an objective key, its individual pieces are plenty visually and emotionally arresting. Some scenes are not for the squeamish (see: LaBeouf carving into his beloved’s back), but the pair certainly possesses the acting chops to pull off some beautifully teary moments. Altogether, it’s a very pretty puzzle that’s worth contemplating.
Other directors who have signed onto the project include John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig & The Angry Inch), Nick Abrahams (Our Hobby is Depeche Mode), and Ramin Bahrani (Plastic Bag). Given their experimental backgrounds, we can only expect to be just as pleasantly surprised with the results. To keep up with the Mystery Film Experiment, you can see all the films released so far, as well as a schedule for upcoming releases, on the band’s website.