Two things should happen after viewers check out director Andrea Arnold’s new indie road trip flick American Honey starring newcomer Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf. First, no one should ever buy magazines from a person that knocks on their door with a story. Second, millennials should be ashamed of the picture that is unfairly painted of them in this new film about young twenty somethings on the road selling magazines door to door in age where print is dead. An idea in the digital age that is as pointless as the premise of American Honey itself.
Director Andrea Arnold puts the audience right in the bus with this white trash crew giving you a slice of Americana that is downright dirty and not a joy to watch whatsoever in American Honey. Star (Sasha Lane) is a girl we first find digging in a dumpster for thrown out expired food she can bring home to her sexually abusive step father. Looking for a way out of her cruel life, Star hooks up with a group of magazine salesmen who move from town to town going peddling subscriptions to anyone who will listen to their pitch.
To say the group Star travels with is scum in American Honey is an understatement. This group of sleazy salesmen go door to door dispensing new lies everyday about dead fathers in Afghanistan, college programs in need of funds and of course God’s message in the pursuit of selling magazines for their team leader who seems to be the only one reaping the benefits of people dumb enough to buy a magazines in this day in age. Hello! Anyone ever heard of Twitter? There is not one likable character in the bunch of Star’s new business associates, which gives the audience no one to root for during the film.
What’s even worse about the company you are forced to keep in American Honey, is that your stuck in this van with them for almost three hours as they have singalongs and hurl racial slurs at one another. There is absolutely no reason this film needed to be 2 hours and 43 minute to tell its story considering the film has no plot, besides selling magazines and partying. Arnold could have made her point with this film easily in 100 minutes, but instead makes us endure shots of bugs and Star gazing out the van window for another extra hour. American Honey is an exhausting experience when it didn’t have to be.
The only thing that keeps you going and not asking to get out of the van at the next town in American Honey is the performances of Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf as two star crossed lovers. The two have tremendous chemistry together even if it’s a relationship you wouldn’t want no part of yourself. American Honey is no fairy tale, which is part of the reason the average movie fan will not enjoy this movie. American Honey is work meant for the festival crowd, which will deem the film art, just because it’s shot in a 4 X 3 aspect ratio and shows the trashier side of life. These images don’t make American Honey art or a movie the regular ticket buyer should care about.
Overall, I give American Honey 2 out of 4 stars.
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