The Movie: 7.9/10
Passion. Danger. Searching for a life that doesn’t rip you to shreds. I would say that sums up American Honey. It’s sad and exhilarating, and frustrating all at the same time. I really enjoyed it, and it made me think, feel, and think some more. If you have ever known someone who makes choices in life that you see as an oncoming train wreck but they refuse to get out of the way…well, you will identify with watching these characters. We meet our leading young woman as she flees a shitty life. Our leading youngish man is part of a band of folks from the frills of society who sell magazines door to door. Yes, we are lead to believe they are really selling magazines legitimately, not scamming people….but you can come to your own conclusion about if those magazines ever actually end up in their mailboxes.
We meet the whole brood, some lost souls looking for a family or purpose, or just a good time that doesn’t involved getting a boring job with a mortgage and all that jazz. I totally get it. I don’t judge the characters. They might not be 100% lawful all the time, which is a shame, but individually I understand their motivations to just be “free” and away from whatever life seemed to push them away, or they ran away from. Our leading young lady, Star, is the observer we get to tag along with. She sees each person through her own curious and non-judgmental eyes, which sets the tone as we ride along in their adventures.
She gets attached to Jake, the big charmer of the group. He’s the top sales person. He is the head woman’s right hand dude, even applies her fake tan down to the millimeter:) He’s the danger, Star is the passion. If one of my nieces were to approach this guy with the kind of wide-eyed innocence that Star does, I would do anything I could to keep them apart. Then again, it’s that kind of life, the wildness, the risks, the perceived freedom that makes these characters feel alive. I do understand, not everyone is meant to do a 9-5 or be stuck in a house for 30 years while life passes them by. It’s just that as you watch these people, you know their ends might not justify their means when it comes to how they all want to find a way to make their dreams come true. Dreams, that is, that are pretty humble and honest. A trailer in the woods, a big piece of land to just disappear on, these are not the aspirations of people who want to storm the countryside ablaze in crimes and debauchery. They just want to get on with life, live, survive, and truly escape the trappings someone else designed for us all.
I really enjoyed this movie. I like the style, sometimes the hand held cameras are a bit more obvious, but overall work just right. The music is amazing. The framing and lighting of shots is hypnotic throughout the movie.
Overall I would say it’s one of my favorites of 2016. I recommend it to anyone who likes LONG movies with a heart and soul and a bit more truth about what a boring existence we have created for ourselves than most of us are willing to face up to in our lifetimes.
- Sasha Lane & Riley Keough On American Honey (6 Minutes) – Brief interviews with the two leading ladies. Not much to learn here which is a shame as this movie is perfect for discussion.
- UV Digital Copy
Cover Art: 8/10
The cover image tells just a fraction of the overall story, but it crystallizes a feeling that matters to the main characters. As much as I like it I wouldn’t have it as a poster, just because it’s not that interesting to me to look at day in day out:).
Audio & Video: 8/10
American Honey is presented in Director Andrea Arnold’s trademark 1.33:1 aspect ratio which gives the film a claustrophobic old home video feel. The AVC codec here handles the hand-held scenes very well with no visible artifacting or banding. This is a very artsy movie and often the frame is blurry for artistic reasons, it looks beautiful throughout and shows off a side of American we don’t often see in movies.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is very dynamic and something we don’t come to expect from this kind of film. The film often has scenes where several people are speaking at the same time often in different parts of a room and to different groups. This never is an issue as Andrea Arnold effortlessly mixes the dialog in the surround mix. Music is also a focal point in the film and here it sounds terrific, the scene where Star first meets Jake in a Wal-Mart store to Calvin Harris’s We Found Love playing over the stores speaker system is standout.
Overall Score 8/10