American Honey is the perfect movie to see on DVD. It’s 2 hours 45 minutes long, so it lends itself to ample snacks and a couple kitchen/bathroom breaks. It’s difficult to categorize this film, but it’s easy to regard it as very worthwhile. It’s not strictly a coming of age movie, although it features a bunch of young people immersed in their culture and experiencing life’s ebbs and flows. It’s also not strictly a love story, although the connection of the central characters, Star and Jake, speaks of an indefinable magnetism. American Honey sometimes reads like a reality show, and that quality seems to give the story the stamina to take its time unfolding.
Star (played by an amazingly gifted actor, Sasha Lane) is a young, strikingly attractive woman who, as the story opens, is taking care of a couple of young kids. Her relationship to these children is never defined, but it’s possible they may be her niece and nephew. This omission is one of many that the director almost defiantly makes. Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank—a well-regarded Indie film) is the writer-director, and here she withholds a lot of backstory, and it turns out that it was not really that important and not knowing actually added to the narrative. So Star is with the kids, and she’s hanging out in a grocery store parking lot. There’s a gang of young people who are acting a little crazy in a van, and the short-braided Jake (some people are going to really care that he’s played by Shia LaBeouf), offers Star a job in Kansas City, and off we go. Turns out that the van gang sells magazines, or so they say, and for me this was a really interesting aspect; the people whose doorbells they ring, the cons, the stories, and the raucous partying post-workday, were all fascinating to watch. These nine or ten magazine misfits were each unique and interesting in their own right, and they each inhabited their character quite well.
Star and Jake together are a force that just won’t stop, and there are some very steamy and sensual scenes that prove it. Star’s insistence on being genuine leads her into some very sketchy situations, and it’s never clear where this story is going until it’s there. That is one of its many gifts, and once you allow yourself to be swept into its current, you won’t be disappointed. American Honey gives us some of the best Independent filmmaking to come around in a long time, and Star, I love your dreads. Very much recommended viewing. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 12/27/16