American Honey: Review

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC American Honey: Review

When Directors attempt to show us a cross section or particular subset of modern day youth it more often than not ends up being horribly misjudged, caricatured and way off the mark. The fact that this 55 year old filmmaker from Kent in England has managed to commit to film the most measured, confident and eye-opening account of American youth and the state of modern social structure in the United States is absolutely incredible. Andrea Arnold is the real deal! I have not seen anything this vital and seemingly authentic since Larry Clark’s “Kids” back in 1995.

It is quite obvious that the film”s casting is a huge factor in why it works so well and front and centre of that is Sasha Lane as Star. This is her first acting role and she is absolutely incredible. A quiet and subtle performance one minute can turn into an aggressive and defensive outburst so fast and yet it feels entirely real the whole time. This girl will be huge after the general audiences get to see this.
Shia LaBeouf has lost a lot of respect over the years for various reasons however I have always found him to be an interesting person. He doesn’t play the same game as the rest of Hollywood and that makes him a target. Putting all personal views aside though, his work in this is the best he has ever been! As with much of the rest of this film I was often left wondering where the real person ended and the character began. This is high praise indeed and hopefully this will be a resurgence for him as I think he still has something more to give.
The rest of the supporting cast are absolutely invigorating. A complete wild bunch of runaways and misfits from all over the country and they are with you the entire way throughout the movie. It genuinely feels like Arnold just turned the camera on in a van full of kids and tried to capture the magic. How much of this was scripted compared to how much was improvised I couldn’t tell you but therein lies this films greatness.
It is not a short film at all and I have heard some criticism of it’s 163 minute run time resulting in the pacing being too slow however I couldn’t disagree more. It is not in a rush to show Star’s journey and it was important to show the repetitiveness of life on the road. In all honesty I was both happy and sad by the end because as much as I loved the movie I wondered what would happen next with them all. I can’t say I feel that way often and it is yet another shining testament to Arnold’s mastery of the craft and the amazing job the performers did.
This is undoubtedly one of the year’s best movies for me and firmly cements Andrea Arnold as one of the most consistently inspiring and interesting filmmakers working today. Check out “Red Road”, “Fish Tank“, and “Wuthering Heights” if you need any more convincing before seeing her crowning achievement “American Honey”

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