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American Honey Review

2 Oct

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The quintessential image of this film is the one splashed across the posters: Sasha Lane’s Star standing up during a drive, the wind blowing in her hair as she raises an arm and stares off at the surrounding blue sky. Shot from below, she towers above the world, momentarily escaping from a world of pain and hardship as she embraces the transient freedom she’s trying to hold onto. It’s a beautifully cathartic shot that expresses the heart and soul of the film, pulsating music accompanying it as we ride along with a woman figuring out how to navigate the trials and tribulations of life.

Star’s journey is very much a sensory one, and Andrea Arnold and cinematographer Robbie Ryan ensure that that journey is at least interesting to experience. They take advantage of their aspect ratio from the beginning, close-ups filling most of the boxy social media frame in the same way that we fill up our own little worlds. The camera explores the nature around these characters, the sunsets and the bugs and the countryside sliding by from the car window. In the end, though, it returns to the people and their experiences, watching them as they dance around a fire or rap along to incessantly loud music in a van.

At 162 minutes, it’s tough to justify the amount of times we see those van sing-a-longs, and it’s unfortunate that most of the characters exist as amorphous blobs with little character development. Nevertheless, as self-indulgent as this film is, there’s something intriguing about the character dynamics that we do get. Lane, LaBeouf, and Keough (phenomenal in The Girlfriend Experience) are all great, and watching Star’s journey unfold is quite the treat. It isn’t connected to much of a plot–they’re selling magazines, and that’s all you need to know–nor does it need to be. The road trip is the catalyst for the living of life that follows, the seedy late night encounters and the longing for connection and the collective moments of pure joy. The last ten minutes are a beautiful expression of what makes life worth living. The capacity to share, connect, and then be alone with your own silence humanize us and assist us as we wade through the muck. Even if true freedom doesn’t exist forever, it can be found in small batches in the most unexpected of places. It’s just a car ride away.

GRADE: B+

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One Response to “American Honey Review”

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  1. The Top 30 Films of 2016 | Polar Bears Watch TV - February 25, 2017

    […] 15. American Honey – Yeah, it’s a 160-minute movie with barely any plot, but you are all missing out. Andrea Arnold’s latest is an exhilarating ride that may lose its way a few times, but manages to reach some beautiful highs. It’s quite the experience. […]

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