Earlier this year, Andrea Arnold’s latest stormed Cannes, bagging the Grand Prix award, and earning recognition throughout the year on several other festivals. Finally, it has arrived in the UK, and it was worth the wait.
American Honey is one of the best movies of the year, with an incredibly talented leading lady (newcomer Sasha Lane) who instantly became hot property after the premiere, and an on-par supporting cast, including Shia LaBeouf, who hasn’t been this good since…well, ever.
The film chronicles the story of Star, a girl with a difficult background, trying to survive in the less glamorous side of the American dream. She joins a ragtag group of teenagers, who sell magazine subscriptions, and an unforgettable summer begins, full of young love, sex and the occasional crime.
Arnold is incredibly successful in depicting the kind of summer we’ve all had, and the one we’ve never experienced, but always longed for in secret. The film is essentially plotless, but it doesn’t necessarily need any story, because it mainly relies on feelings: the first love, the endless, crazy summers, and so on. Framed in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio, the sun-drenched picture evokes a sense of a long lost memory, like a faded polaroid, tucked safely away in our subconscious.
However, not everything works within the film, and some ideas are not able to stand on their own. Plotlines are left dangling, unresolved, and because of the length, the movie sometimes can feel a tad too long at points. But perhaps that was also intentional. To give us a reminder of our younger years, when everything was possible, nothing was serious, and those summer holidays seemed endless.
Whatever faults the film might has, we don’t care by the end (if we recognise them at all), as Arnold’s direction and Sasha Lane’s performance are absolutely engrossing. Lane is just as comfortable in the role as any other, more experienced actresses, and leads us thrillingly through this crazy ride which we’ll never forget.
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