okcordero’s review published on Letterboxd:
Scavenger Hunt 21
Film #14/Task #21: "A film you've been meaning to see from 2016"
Andrea Arnold paints a perfect portrait of America 2016 by stripping it down to reveal its truest colors. In a nearly 3 hour film (which completely flies by), Arnold takes us on a road trip through the real heart of the country - not the buzzword espoused by idiotic politicians and talking heads, but the one found in roadside inns, truck stops, suburbs, trailer parks, fast food outlets, and miles upon miles of vast empty spaces. One where you'll likely encounter people like the ragtag bunch of misfits she follows through the movie - brash and in your face (quite literally with her close-up framing), but desperate and vulnerable. Like Fish Tank, Arnold focuses on a young woman trying to escape the cycle of poverty that surrounds her and informs her life by any means necessary; here Star seeks refuge through the people she meets (even though some of them really don't want her there), and though finding her own way to financial and personal independence. Our heroine's journey is long and strange, and like the country itself is bewildering, sometimes ugly and unpleasant, but always interesting.
S/O to Sasha Lane for a fantastic performance, especially for a complete newcomer; no pun intended, but she's a star in the making. Also, Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough for playing such deplorable but completely engaging characters, and for that moment with the sunscreen that I won't ever forget. Also, another S/O to Andrea Arnold again, for putting this thing together, giving it life and energy (enough to sustain it for 3 hours), for taking the risk to put a relative unknown in that leading role, and for generally getting the look/feel of 2016 America completely right. Crass, unfeterred, unafraid, unknowingly racist, and trying to find ways to move above and beyond their lots in life, including making money in any way they can.
So yeah, I really enjoyed this.