American Honey review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
American Honey is a compelling and gritty thriller that most moviegoers would rather opt for something else instead. Plus, the film has that mesmerizing quality that both attracts and repels at the same time, which also leaves you petrified as the events from the film rapidly roll over (and evolve) before your very own eyes. To this extent, one can assert that American Honey is a rather bold, and hopefully not last, experience from the mind of visionary director Andrea Arnold. Also, Shia LaBeouf is in this film, which is an additional reason why you should see the movie, like right now.
The film follows protagonist Star (played by Sasha Lane), as a stoic but deeply bittersweet person whose emotions resurface when she’s cornered and has nowhere to go. Then comes Jake (played by actor-turned internet sensation Shia LaBeouf), whose antics never cease to amaze me both on and off the screen to an equal measure. Here, Shia is Jake, a raging, compulsive, and a massively underachieving individual who wants to see other people succeed, but not at the expense of his own personal gains. Let’s face it: Shia LaBeouf is a force to be reckoned with whenever he pops on the screen, and his presence in American Honey is as compelling as ever.
Granted, American Honey is at times exercising stereotypes, depicting a European’s view of how the States look like from outside its borders. And the view is not at all pretty: compromising one’s own values in order to achieve some financial stability and emotional gratification; pursuing opportunities despite knowing their gray moral nature; throwing your friends ‘under the bus’ so that you can see some monetary gain in the meantime; and finally, a decadent society where the rich become richer and the poor are left to gather the scraps of the former. To this extent, it seems like American Honey’s reality is cruel, very relatable, and depressingly pessimistic as well.
Worth stating is that the actions of the disenfranchised individuals is what gives the main character Star agency; it’s the interactions between her and the marginalized people that ultimately define her bearings in light of her upcoming challenges in life.
In addition, some may find (presumably those with short attention spans, which are most people nowadays – me not excluded) the film as overly long and somewhat boring. If you find yourself among that target demographic – then it’s probably best if you skip the movie altogether.
Finally, enjoying American Honey will take at least some work on your part, meaning the film can’t be actually enjoyed by turning all of your synapses and nerve endings off. Or in other words: American Honey is everything but dumb fun, with its chaotic demeanor earning a top place among the shelves where master pieces reside.