American Honey


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

British director Andrea Arnolds American Honey, set to screen at Cannes, was shot in the US.
"Full of passing vistas, moments of lyricism, raw sex and emotions – all building to a portrait of youths trying to bond together to survive."

After Red Road, Fish Tank and Wuthering Heights, Andrea Arnold opts for something completely different, heading off on a road trip across the wide open spaces of America with a group of disaffected teenagers trying to sell magazine subscriptions to anyone who will listen.

Her film is full of passing vistas, moments of lyricism, raw sex and emotions – all building to a portrait of youths trying to bond together to survive. It has the feel of the early films of Gus Van Sant or even Harmony Korine. In the final analysis, there is not much else going to sustain the marathon running time (162 minutes) while the group of drifters fails to engage sufficiently to sustain interest.

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That said, it is worth seeing if only for Shia LaBeouf giving one of the best portrayals of his career, as Jake, the group’s best performing sales person, who is held up as a shining example by Krystal (Riley Keough) in a succession of day-glo outfits as she keeps a firm grasp on the finances while trying to control the worst excesses of the group.

Newcomer Sasha Lane plays Star, who is only too ready to leave her sleazy stepfather, abandon her two smaller siblings and quit Oklahoma with the crew. She has just the right mix of instinctive bravado and reserves of energy as she learns the rules of the game. Lane exudes a hypnotic screen presence in what undoubtedly is an impressive debut.

Her relationship with Jake comes under close scrutiny from Krystal after the star pupil’s takings show a dip due to their emotional involvement. That provides a few dramatic sparks along the way but the rest of the group dynamics remains unexplored for the most part – rather strange in a film that proceeds at such a leisurely pace.

The soundtrack is eclectic and makes good use of music from the likes Rihanna and Bruce Springsteen, helping the film to soar instead of ramble which it does for much of the way.

Reviewed on: 15 May 2016
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A teenager joins a travelling magazine sales crew and gets swept up in hard partying and young love.
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Director: Andrea Arnold

Writer: Andrea Arnold

Starring: Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, McCaul Lombardi, Arielle Holmes, Crystal Ice, Veronica Ezell, Chad Cox, Garry Howell, Kenneth Kory Tucker, Raymond Coalson, Isaiah Stone, Dakota Powers, Shawna Rae Moseley, Chris Wright, Riley Keough

Year: 2016

Runtime: 162 minutes

Country: UK, US

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