American Honey

October 15, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ½

It’s hard to adequately described what a complex and long trip this film was. It was sometimes rambling and sometimes repetitive but, even at 2 hours 43 minutes, every bit of it seemed vital. I was struck several times by how this film seemed like a darker, cynical version of Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” only here we get a sense of what it means to be a young girl in America today. Or, at least, what it means to be a  girl of a certain socioeconomic group. British writer and director Andrea Arnold (“Fish Tank”) seems to have a sense of what it means to be a disconnected and disenfranchised American youth. In a story rich with almost too much symbolism (recurring imagery included Christianity, dogs, fireworks, American flags and a whole host of other things), we watch a feral tribe of young adults burn their way across the country. They seem to be representatives of not just the disaffected poor youth of today but also a glimpse into a savage American future. There is a definite anarchist vibe that courses through this film and gives every scene a sense of potential danger. The young actors, most of them unknowns, are all fantastic and the dialogue felt so natural that, at times, some scenes almost felt like a documentary. The actress who played the lead, and not-at-all-symbolically-named, Star (Sasha Lane) was magnetic to watch. She was continually defiant and vulnerable, all at the same time. Also, Riley Keough (who played the “boss” of this group) was another stand out, as the constantly inebriated Krystal. The other truly powerful performance came from Shia LaBeouf. This role gave him the opportunity to prove that he is a far better actor than he is given credit for . His superficial charm and menace drove much of the tension of the film. This long, meandering ride was not a pleasant look into the decay festering on the underside of the American dream but it was a beautiful and fascinating one, none-the-less.

 

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