American Honey

American Honey ★★★★★

i honestly find that it makes this movie all the more interesting knowing it was directed by an english director, which means its a foreign perspective of america...yet it all seems so authentically american. maybe more american than the movies that americans themselves make. maybe it stems from some sort of pride in our country. hollywood always seems to gloss over america's huge rural population – the movies that address these parts of the country are stories based around one character's journey to escape, or characters being forced to move to uncharacteristically awful rural parts of america, or farmers painted as caricatures chewing on stalks of wheat with their saccharine plump grey-haired wives constantly making fresh lemonade. no one in hollywood or american cinema in general wants to address rural america with authenticity, or even with respect or humanity. so often we see these areas – these sparsely populated areas that ultimately make up for a huge percentage of the american population – treated as a punchline.

what i love about american honey – and what makes me even more fascinated with its foreign direction – is its ability to treat these unexplored settings without the undertone of repulsion that so many american films inextricably link with poverty and 'white trash.' the film is riddled with calm, delicate shots of colorful insects and pastel flowers and rippling water, juxtaposed against taco bells and stucco motels and heaving oil rigs, filmed with a shaky cam to mimic a pensive, thoughtful human gaze. star's past is never painfully drawn out; andrea arnold skips over painting out a horrible tale of sexual abuse and grief with hackneyed brushstrokes – something that a lot of directors seem to think is essential to crafting a multi dimensional character.

arnold treats the audience with respect. she leaves us to determine the past, present, and future of our cast of characters. with ambiguous beginnings and ambiguous ends, this movie feels all the more like an immersive epic than a dramatic tragedy – feels more genuine and passionate than pessimistic. of course it's gritty and of course parts of it really really hurt, but more in a sense of the human experience than in this obscure sort of exaggerated pity party that so many directors want to pin on the working class. and that's not to say that this doesn't have a current of capitalist criticism running through it – but instead of blaming it on the people who struggle to make a decent living and instead of writing unrecognizable petty criminal characters, all the fingers are pointed at the system they were born into, and the young love and camaraderie they are well capable of forming in the midst of it.

"never even been to the ocean. i know it's crazy, but one day. it's my dream"

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