Directed by Andrea Arnold
From 14th October 2016
Reviewed by Colin Serjent
It is always good to see so-called non-actors playing parts in feature films but it does not always succeed, as is the case with American Honey, directed by Andrea Arnold, responsible for the impressive Red Road and Fish Tank.
I am afraid some of them – they shall remain nameless – should not have been recruited to play acting roles. It would have been better if they had remained in the parking malls and skate parks from whence Arnold spotted them.
Over its 164 minute length there were a number of scenes which resembled earlier enactments. I know long road trips can be tedious at times but this repetition was unnecessary.
At the centre point of the film is Star (Sasha Lane), who was encouraged by Jake (Shia LaBeouf) , one of their leaders, to join a group of young people selling magazine subscriptions in various parts of America.
What baffled me was why young folks would hawk physical magazines in the Internet age. It quickly became apparent that none of them believed that anyone wanted what they were trying to sell.
Those travelling in the minibus have no structure except for getting wasted on drink and drugs. This is not meant to be a criticism of them!
It is the proverbial road movie but there are too may loose ends within it, in keeping with their dispossessed lifestyles.
There are regular interludes where Arnold’s regular collaborator, cinematographer Robbie Ryan – who she describes as her co-author – includes beguiling nature shots, similar in ways to the films of Terrence Malick.
The contrast between the pure essence of nature, whether it be insects, flowers or landscapes, and the nihilism of the drifter-like aspects of the travelling crew, are stark.
The hip-hop content of the film’s soundtrack did grate but what a pleasure to hear Bruce Springsteen play a version of Dream Baby Dream, first recorded by USA band Suicide. That is American honey!