American Honey Is A Bore, But Dallas-Bred Lead Actress Sasha Lane Shows Promise.
Director: Andrea Arnold.
Writer:: Andrea Arnold.
Cast: Sasha Lane, Shai LaBoeuf and Riley Keough.
Release: Limited. Opens at: Angelika Dallas and Plano, Alamo Drafthouse Richardson, and Look Cinemas.
Road trip movies are a primarily American — yes, this includes Central and South — type of movie. And what’s more romantic than hitting the high road on an adventure, getting into some mischief and maybe getting to know yourself a little? Not much.
But what if this road trip was a nightmare you couldn’t escape? One full of confusingly repeated imagery and existential pointlessness?
In director Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, her perception of America is one filled with perpetual sunsets, picturesque fields, trains, American flags and kids shooting fireworks, all set to white trash kids singing along to hip-hop in a slightly uncomfortable manner and shot through some Instagram filter.
It’s also three hours long, with essentially 25 minutes worth of the same scenes. I’ve ran a marathon before but this felt worse.
Despite starring everyone’s favorite weirdo Shia LaBoeuf, who is serviceable here, the only shining light of the movie is Dallas actress Sasha Lane as Star. When we first meet Star, she’s digging through a dumpster for food along with two kids. After failing to hitchhike home, she sees a group of rowdy twentysomethings in a van pull up to a grocery store, dancing to Rihana and causing a ruckus. It’s here where she meets LaBoeuf’s Jake, who offers her a job if she shows up to their van the next day. Given that she was just groped by a sleazy dude at home, her answer is an easy one, and this rag tag group of totally unimportant and pointless characters embark on an operation to scam people by selling magazine subscriptions, using the money to travel the country, get high, stay in shitty motels and literally piss in nature.
There’s no real plot to analyze here. The major “drama” centers around the relationship of Star and Jake. Jake is a womanizer and unable to commit, but Star keeps going back to him, which doesn’t sit well with third wheel Krystal, who runs the magazine scam group. Nothing else happens.
But, again, Sasha Lane is pretty awesome and charismatic in the lead role. Her Star emotes so much through just a single look, and she has so much empathy for everything from garbage people like Jake to a bug on a window sill that she’s fairly charming. Her endearing naivete and optimism are the only thing that keep this movie from being a completely nihilistic look at the ugly and impoverished side of the US.
If you see this movie, see it for the lead actress. But don’t bother seeing in the theaters where you can’t fast-forward through the film’s at least 80 percent worth of fluff.