From where do you measure art? Quite simply, from a stream of consciousness interrupted by a series of conflicting realities. Art is as much as a reflection as it is a deflection. It's equally as positive to be a plus as it is to be a minus.
A very mature depiction of self-imposed cages and how they can affect those around us. The more innocent amongst us. Where the same set of bars can seem escapable to some, and hopelessly narrow to others. To be born into burdens is often too steep of a bet, but the best of us grow up quickly despite such. You develop an elasticity of the soul. It's probably a lot like snake venom, in that you take a little bit at a time over a long period of time, and you eventually become capable of not folding over once you finally get bit for real.
The playful fighting early on is depictive of childhood innocence dealing with a failed adult. The failed adult likening the best of us. As the story goes though, the kid observes the damaged observer. Sia's avatar dances around in an impish way around Shia LaBeouf; representing a young girl growing into adult hood while confronting her abusive and alcoholic father. Screams & taunts met with a defensive, flailing realization of ones' own failures.
The smallest of details go overlooked in our behavior - yet we are constantly trying to call bullshit against anyone in front of us with a lick of shit to say. Gestures & small fidgets driven by the unconscious give up our ego's footing. We look for that occurrence in others. We form the bluff all while laying the foundation to call it out. Chimpanzee behaviors. The reliance upon actions and customs to make up for our short comings. It's fucking amazing that chimps figured out a tool. Stroking fingers along a guilty palm doesn't make up for the process. Go ahead. Pound away at those bars keeping you away from sympathy and second chances. Pound away at the emotions. Hitting a rock doesn't make it any less of a rock, nor any less of a foolish choice on your part. Unfortunately.
A lot of people, including myself in the beginning, were put off by this video. It caught a lot of heat. Why the fuck is Shia Labeouf dancing around and wrestling with the ballet Sia-girl in nude suits. Fair enough question, honestly. I urge you to listen to the song a couple of times without watching the video. Then, I urge you to watch the video a couple of times while matching the lyrics with the acting. Then re-read up to this part. Hopefully you find, as I did, that it required a perfect storm of message, writing, insanity, and talent to pull off this piece of art. Shia, Sia and Sia-girl are the perfect trifecta lasting through these five minutes and seven seconds.
Sia-girl, A.K.A. Maddie Ziegler, perfectly enacts the elasticity of emotion through a beautiful series of tongue-in-cheek pirouettes & childish contortions of the face. The video, despite all rightful first impressions, is not pedophile-like. It is a beautiful reenactment of a man being left broken, fearful and angry from an addiction. Met by a young woman, presumably his daughter given the age range of the video and Sia's background, that matures fast due to the bullshit she has to deal with from her failed adult. Hence the young actresses' apparent lack of sympathy for the incoherent and sloppy actions of Shia. I can understand why at first glance that this video is offsetting in it's nature, but there is a level of care and innocence embedded in the ugliness. And, vice versa. It's evident in the reluctance that precedes every pivotal movement throughout the video. Uncomfortably, softened blows.
Maddie being able to slip in and out of the boundaries is the most poetic and sobering aspects of the video, because it is the epitome of what Shia LaBeouf's character can not do. Size though, is only a metaphor. What we're actually seeing, is the paralyzing effects of addiction & the inability to relinquish authority in the face of a gross absence of a reality under control. LaBeouf can not leave his cage. He is his own prisoner. Maddie can step in and out. She is no prisoner. And there is no warden in this scenario, only states of mind. She enters into his cage regardless. You've done similar. Unimpeded guilt runs deeper than tears distilled upon unsuspecting cheeks. She had to go in, had to still believe in a chance that things will turn around. The ever hopeful turnaround after achieving rock bottom.
And maybe at this point, LaBeouf's more docile, reminiscently playful demeanor is a sign of the days, months, years following rock bottom. Age bringing about a slowing of activity. Maybe it's more in the present and will-driven, with Shia making an effort to be the father his daughter hasn't needed for a while now. The equivalent of showing off a near-steady hand. The tremble isn't as noticeable anymore. Or just maybe, the bruising of his hands throughout this struggle draw attention away from the tremors. All I know is that when she passes back into his cage, like we often do for those we both love and hate, her rage is now replaced with sympathy and - even worse - pity.
For a few seconds, we see what I like to believe to be a brief window into what was suppose to be. She's in his life again. Ironically, strapping herself to his back gives him the strength to rise again. This scene always gets me. Not even sure how to really explain the transition of brokenness in Shia's eyes to what happens after. The cradling met with the bopping of his head, resulting in a playful act of exaggerated expressions, is some of the best range of acting I've ever seen. She sees through his momentarily altered façade, though.. He wears reality on his breath. Nothing really changed. Shia remains a broken man who longs for the alternative, and might even be able to pull off brief stints of the ideal, but ultimately is just too damaged. Too human.
LaBeouf never breaks free of his personal confines. He grasps for Maddie, knowing that his brief window they had just experienced is closing. His presumed death can be interpreted as him never being able to mold his reality; throat against the curb day in and day out with the boot of addiction pressing down harder with every disappointing action. Just wait until the sound drowns out, and you see Maddie reach down and prop up LaBeouf's lifeless arm onto her waist; longing for the struggle that Sia most likely spent many nights screaming into silence over. That's the ultimate mind fuck: When you realize you'd rather experience the bad all over again, than to be robbed of it.