American Honey (2016)

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American Honey

Been anticipating this film ever since I’ve heard of it. This is a well made coming of age film about hopeless youth who are on the go. The film really reminded me of Kids but with stronger focus on its core character and her experience. It also reminded me a bit of Spring Breakers so maybe its a Harmony Korine thing. Sasha Lane stars as Star, a young drifter on the run who stumbles across a gang of people who travel in a van and are in “sales” and getting money where they can to get by. You’re immediately curious about Star’s previous life and experiences but you start in the moment and go on the road with her. Sasha Lane is just starting and I’m curious as to what her story is because this role was second nature to her. She’s great. Love him or hate him, Shia LaBeouf can be a force on the screen. He is most certainly one in this film. There is a charismatic nature to his character and his relationship with Star (through the rage and love) is very entertaining to watch. I wish there was more of Riley Keough in this. I’m a huge fan of her after seeing her in the very excellent The Girlfriend Experience and she was the main attraction for me to this film. I may be biased but she steals the scenes she’s in. The confederate bikini and oil rub scene in the motel room is fantastic.

The film has some other really beautiful scenes. Star and Jake sitting on top of the car as the wind blows and the bright lights pass by; its so wonderful. The stage is set in southern America and you get a real sense of that world on every pit-stop. Not all the character’s in the gang are fleshed out in this near three hour film but its hardly a detriment as not many of them are necessarily memorable. The film is heavy on soundtrack which makes sense as you take a car trip through the eyes of Star as she goes from place to place. The scenes during the day always look like its almost sunset. I think it adds to the grittiness and roughness of the American South. The camera is mostly personal and very zoomed on Star so you get to see the world through her first hand experience. I saw a message of how tough it is to set your life straight in a hard world and having to do whatever it takes to get by  on a day to day basis. I think at its heart Andrea Arnold’s film can be interpreted in a few ways but I saw it as the story of a down out of luck girl who will do whatever it takes to survive. Star potentially puts herself in dangerous situations in the film but she’s just fearless throughout. Which takes me back to the curiosity of her past. To me, she’s unfazed with what she’s exposed to and can adapt very well. Once she realizes she can make it there’s a moment of beauty as she takes whatever comes her way. She’s always setting animals (and other people) free in this film  because she seeks to set herself free.

The first thing I’d recommend is not to be daunted by the running length of the film. Also  be prepared for more of a visual, sonic, and spiritual experience over a film that’s plot heavy and focused. I enjoyed it just as much as I thought I would.

8/10

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