Dan Holford’s review published on Letterboxd:
First off, the sound track slaps hard. Every song fits perfectly into the mood at that point of the movie. This movie really displays a different side to the whole ‘American dream’, combining stylish visuals and beautiful landscapes of America with the rather sad tones of the American working class system. With all the hope that this movie shows, there are just as many scenes that can leave you feeling like these characters will never get out of the slump they are in. Perhaps my only problem is that there felt to be a definite slump in the middle, while still enjoyable, it just felt like some moments of the movie could have been cut down, just a small amount. The plot was interesting as well, more of a following of these characters and the world they live in, than a fully complex and intricate tale.
It’s an interesting take on the whole workings of America. Having a female leader of a group of kids, who go around America selling magazines to other Americans that are richer and mostly feel they are ‘better’ than these young sellers. This leads to so many interesting dynamics and scenes, of just how these teens are treated by the richer and older upper classes of America. They may be making enough of a living to survive, it comes at a price. It’s all shot perfectly, moody and stylish, for every shot of somewhere more run down, there is another that adds to the whole American dream.
The group of kids are all likeable and fun, but at the same time rather tragic. Trying to enjoy what life they lead, but seeing it from an outside point of view, it really isn’t that much of a life. At the forefront of it all, is Star (played perfectly by Sasha Lane), the ups and downs of her life shown perfectly through the length of the movie. She’s the new comer to the group, introduced by Jake (a smaller but rather significant role for Shia Labeouf), there is a great deal of character development slowly shown for Star, just how she copes with this new way of life; and struggling to become more independent and alone in this world.
I didn’t really like the ending that much, it felt a little, just quiet and reserved, it felt like the film was building something more, instead tailing off, which after such a long movie, is rather disappointing. But maybe i missed something deeper meaning to the ending? There’s a moment towards the end, where it feels like the movie has gone full circle and could end, but it just carries onto the next couple of scenes before a slightly different ending arrives.
Overall though, I really liked this movie, for every moment of hope and glory, there’s another moment that knocks it back to reality. Resulting in a rather telling drama of America’s underbelly and the people that have to try and navigate it.