American Honey

American Honey ★★★★

What are you willing to sell, and what will be the price? Phony magazine subscriptions? A made-up story designed to elicit pity? Your integrity? Your love? Your body? Your soul?

This is the question at the root of American Honey. Star (played very capably by Sasha Lane) is in a no-win situation at the start of the film, an orphaned teenager saddled with the responsibility of taking care of two kids who don't belong to her, in a relationship with an asshole, and scrounging through dumpsters for their next meal. When presented with an opportunity to change her circumstances, even one so ill-defined and obviously sketchy as traveling across the heartland selling magazine subscriptions door to door, she jumps at the chance.

She takes to the road with a fun-loving bunch of young people lorded over by tough-as-nails Riley Keough and her right-hand man, Shia LaBeouf. They party by night and spend their long days selling their wares to homeowners, truck drivers, oil workers, and whoever else they can convince to spend $40 on magazines that will likely never arrive. Part and parcel to this line of work come lies, theft, violence, and a seemingly unending exposure to the absolute worst of humanity. And the power dynamics of Keough's little group of workers shine a harsh spotlight on what it means to be in "a business" in America.

American Honey may not have much to do with honey, but it is most certainly a film about America. Who are we as a country? How can some of us live in such an exuberance of wealth while others are resigned to poverty, crime, or drugs? And does making a buck in this country really come down to selling away your humanity, one piece at a time?

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