American Honey

American Honey ★★½

Strengthened by its free-flowing plot, exquisitely arranged soundtrack & a breakout performance from the young actress, American Honey approaches the genre of coming-of-age dramas from a different paradigm but its 163 minutes of intimidating runtime & repetitive set of events ultimately hinder it from providing a wholly satisfying experience.

American Honey tells the story of Star, a teenage girl who decides to escape her lifeless existence by joining a travelling magazine sales crew that consists of a band of misfits. Journeying through the American landscape, the plot covers her stint with hard partying, law-breaking & love as she attempts to figure out what she really wants to do with her life.

Written & directed by Andrea Arnold, American Honey lacks a coherent structure as the plot simply drifts from one event to another before repeating the whole set all over again while exhibiting no major change in the relation dynamics of its leading characters. Arnold steers the film headfirst on to the road ahead but without any destination in mind due to which it only wanders in the middle.

There are so many characters present yet none of them are fully-bodied and the only thing that keeps a bit of interest alive in our leads is the reverberating sexual tension between the two. The journey they embark on encompasses all the socio-economic classes of America, from the wealthy to the poverty-stricken, while its odd aspect ratio & handheld camerawork gives it a documentary-like look n feel.

Camera angles are unconventional but the images still brim with richness, thanks to its vivid use of colour palette & splendid lighting. Editing is where its fans & detractors will disagree most, for few will support its patient pacing while others will call it an unnecessarily drawn out drama that has no idea where it's headed. However, the whole ordeal of sitting through it is made easier by excellent choice of songs incorporated into the tale.

Coming to the acting department, American Honey features a cast of mostly unknowns with Shia LaBeouf & Sasha Lane in the lead, the latter making her debut. LaBeouf is quite impressive here plus he sells his character brilliantly. Lane's acting inexperience shows up from time to time but it doesn't stop her from going forward as her performance only builds more n more momentum as plot progresses while Riley Keough easily steals her moments as their boss.

On an overall scale, American Honey embarks on an adventure like an excited explorer but forgets to bring a map along. However, that little mistake is unable to dampen its spirit, for it believes in celebrating the moment no matter wherever it is at any given time instead of endlessly worrying about getting lost or not making it till the end. There are bits n pieces to like about it plus it never runs out of energy but it is still stale, overlong & not as emotionally satisfying as the best examples of its genre tend to be.

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