American Honey (2016)

Andrea Arnold directs Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough in this road movie where a poor teen joins a band of itinerant magazine sellers.

Goes on and on and on and on. And even when there are scenes that it could use as an adequate closer… just keeps rolling aimlessly forward. That’s the vibe, and this doesn’t need such a strict narrative form but the ultimate point is vague. The undeveloped background kids begin to annoy as we spend another moronic journey with them crammed in a van, babbling and self aggrandising. I bet every character stinks to high heaven. Arnold has moments of poverty porn beauty that are memorable, almost wounding. You know her heart is in the right place from her previous movies focussing on teens at the fringes of society. It isn’t just squalor as fashion show. The film ain’t nothing but energy and comedown, attraction and then thud. Arnold really understands attraction, and her use of cinematic space is second to none. She engages expertly with both intimacy and distance in her frames. Her compositions in the Academy ratio are pregnant with connection. Why does our storyteller keeps putting Lane’s Star in risky, predatory situations (genuinely tense, but with a seemingly oblivious lead) which have minimal fallout? She never makes explicit that the kids are essentially truckstop prostitutes who are positioned into vulnerable circumstances to make their “magazine sales”, especially the girls. Yet that’s the ultimate end game, right? Keough and LaBeouf do good, physical work as the thrift store pimps, bottom feeder capitalists. Arnold has a great eye for casting unknowns. Lane puts in a very alluring performance with minimal material. Would I watch it again though, knowing it is all half essayed proposition with minimal conclusion…?


Perfect Double Bill: Kids (1995)

Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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