American Honey

American Honey ★★★★½

Right at the beginning, during the supermarket scene that effectively serves as an overture for Andrea Arnold's understandably divisive film, a seemingly minor detail perfectly encapsulates what appears to be the intent behind a great number of the creative decisions involved in its making. Calvin Harris' anthemic EDM hit 'We Found Love' comes on the store's sound system, to the manic delectation of a Shia-LeBeouf-lead ragtag collection of rather offbeat individuals. It's a straightforward, yet compelling episode of effervescent hedonistic behavior, punctuated by the lead characters unspoken, authentic moment of connection, which obviously is also what Rihanna is singing about.

That, by itself, is a fine description of what all 3-hours of this picture are about, but the most telling element of how exactly the movie's about, is the fact that said song, even after its diegetic existence in the sequence is properly established, never comes rising on the mix to sound loud and crisp like it's sort of expected to. Despite chock-full of non-original music from end-to-end, that rules applies to virtually every occasion they're utilized, not because it's a project that isn't built to fit them like that, on the contrary, but what the filmmakers are trying to avoid is the inherently dissociating, dreamy effect that those kind of musical montages have on the audience. It doesn't want to make you forget that that's real life. It's aestheticized, probably in ways that wouldn't please a lot of people, but it's still real life.

The same reasoning can be applied to justify its length. If any of it feels like an epic, or an all-caps literary GREAT AMERICAN EPIC, it's because that's what it must be to go through your one brief journey into the world like that, that is, after you remove the stigma that basic valor is reserved to those who do courageously "noble" deeds for the sake of others. And no, the fact that it's still fairly rooted in social realism doesn't cancel that polished, almost legend-like treatment out. Has the potential to eventually become a classic many, many years from now.

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