American Honey

American Honey ★★★★★

American Honey is a mesmerizing masterpiece. Each shot seems painstakingly chosen to make maximum impact, full of brimming meaning and striking subtlety. Andrea Arnold directs with a powerful touch, knowing just when to look directly into Star's gaze or look at those Star affects. Her script is smart too, making several complicated characters that are always fascinating to watch, and putting them in situations that are outright unforgettable.

Shia LaBeouf has gotten a lot of buzz for his role as Jake, and he lives up to the hype. The performance feels lived-in, world-weary and yet in love with what he's seen in the world. This is Sasha Lane's movie though, and rightfully so. From the first shot, the audience will know exactly who she is and what she's gone through. She's world-weary in an incredibly inexperienced way, but fascinatingly so, and as she progresses through the story and regresses in maturity, we want to feel her dream come true. Lane's subtle expressions or change in body language makes Star an even more fascinating character than she would be on the script page.

The editing is phenomenal. The film feels simultaneously like a six-hour-long epic and a short 120-minute coming-of-youth story. Immensibly watchable, the film also benefits from some incredible cinematography aided a ideally cramped aspect ratio of 1:1.33. Perfectly utilized, it helps us join Star in her alienation from those around her, but also realize when there's more than enough room for this Star to shine. The soundtrack also deserves a shout-out, with every radio hit picked with precision in meaning and in sound.

American Honey is delightful. It revels in putting us right in the film with the protagonist, but never loses sight of both the fun and misfortune of her discovering America's beauty and ugliness for the first time. Arnold writes and directs the film to be an absolute triumph, aided by her stellar crew and cast. American Honey is just an outstanding piece of cinema that should be - no, must be - viewed by anyone who claims to love the art form.

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