American Honey

American Honey ★★★★½

2016 UK Releases Ranked!
2016 US Releases Ranked!

I'd been looking forward to American Honey ever since the trailers dropped for it. It tells you very little about the plot itself, other than it's a road trip, yet there was something truly hypnotic about it, the choice of songs, the camera angles, the cinematography, the stylish use of the letterboxed aspect ratio. Just about everything about it made me want to see it.

The film is about the lead character Star (Sasha Lane), coming from a troubled and poor background joining a door-to-door magazine sales crew, and they are pretty much just a rowdy bunch who make money in any way possible, by lying and stealing from those who are trusting and invite them in and even sleeping around to make money. It's like looking at a social commentary on today's youth and it's a slice-of-life which stays interesting because of an energetic lead character.

American Honey is simply an excellent character piece and is hopefully a star turn (no pun intended) for Sasha Lane. Making her feature length debut, Lane is nothing short of exceptional as Star as the whole film revolves around her. She's at a low ebb in her life, and she's not above doing what she has to to survive, yet she does still have morals and values and compassion and it really does come through. She just adds so much personality to the role, so you always care about the character, which in my opinion this film hinged on that.

Theres some other interesting characters. Shia LeBoef gives probably the best performance I've seen from him so far he's very charismatic as Jake, who often does feel very mysterious as a character. Him and Sasha Lane share a lot of natural chemistry together.

Riley Keough as Krystal also has a strong presence about her in every scene and without giving anything away, I found the writing for her very interesting, because a lot of her characteristics are often something that you would expect to be written for a male actor, if that makes sense.

American Honey has made me curious to see other films from Andrea Arnold because you can tell she commands every aspect of the film. Every shot from Robbie Ryan just feels intricate. The aspect ratio is used to full effect here, the beautiful close-up shots never feel overused because they always create some kind of emotional tension to the film. Also whenever Star is around a big group of unpredictable people, that letterboxed format creates a natural closed-in atmosphere which automatically feels claustrophobic, like your space is constantly being invaded! I absolutely love some of the angles the film uses.

The soundtrack to is a great example of how to use it effectively in a film. While a lot of the music here is of hip-hop music with a lot of crude lyrics that I'm not a fan of, for me it fits the tone of the film perfectly. You shouldn't tease me with a kid wearing an awesome Iron Maiden t-shirt, and then not play them though 👎😜

This film has a run time of over 2 and a half hours long, so you can expect the pacing to be on the slow side. I think it is a little longer than it needed to be to be completely honest, but at the same time I never found myself bored watching it. There was times though where I did find a few scenes got repetitive towards the end, but at the same time, really thinking about it this film also feels like it's showing a vicious cycle that just feels endless. It makes the way the film ends feel all the more poignant looking back!

Overall if you want to see a road trip movie, where you get attached to a character and you feel like a lot of where the film goes feels very unpredictable, then this should be right up your alley. It definitely lived up to the hype for me and I wouldn't be surprised if this got a few oscar nods at the end of the year, particularly best actress and hopefully best director too as unfortunately female directors are often overlooked in that category. There's no excuse this year because this is one of the best directed films I have seen all year!

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