American Honey tells the story of a teenage girl with nothing to lose joins a traveling magazine sales crew, and gets caught up in a whirlwind of hard partying, law bending and young love as she criss-crosses the Midwest with a band of misfits.
Although this is a film that’s entirely repetitive that doesn’t need to be as long as it does. At a lengthy and bloat-y run time of two hours and forty three minutes, American Honey is no Lord of the Rings or Gone With the Wind or Interstellar or films that hold a similar length in run time (and some may argue that they could hardly compare), this is a film that’s overly ambitious often too bold for it’s liking. In this, the film falls into a multitude of pitfalls that don’t just stop short at the aforementioned grievances. The film’s repetitive and filled with totally unlikable characters that no one would be able to connect with, at least in a truthful manner — it’s often like watching a really bad teen reality television show that goes nowhere and ultimately has no meaning as these figures we’re taken on a journey with constantly listen to music in a white van while travelling through America’s southern states.
Sitting through American Honey was hardly a cinematic experience and felt more like I was forcing myself through something that I didn’t need to. It’s an irritating watch filmed in a nauseating hand held camera that could work, sure, if you want to make your audience throw up without a still moment so the audience can regain their feet. In properly thinking about this film, you could definitely feel that much of it was unscripted and that’s why it kept on running over itself and why the crew were so desperate to catch anything to string some semblance of a story together. And it’s clear that it didn’t do them any favours. The story ended up coming off paper thin however painfully acceptable.
The only thing that really keeps this film together is it’s performances from newcomer Sasha Lane and known faces in Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough. Though in saying this, they struggled with what they had and did their best. Compared to the rest of the film, they shined. And I couldn’t help but shake the feeling of how much this film could’ve been that much better. I was intrigued by the film the moment I heard about it and keenly kept an eye out to be able to watch it. The biggest set back of this film is the film itself — not only is the cinematography hardly anything special, the editing is what brings this film down the most amongst other things. The editing ends up damaging the story and whoever the editor was on the film needs to seriously think about what they’ve done to a film that could’ve been so much better. It’s overbearing and extremely indulgent, especially in it’s pacing where the film feels so unrelenting that it becomes frustratingly infuriating.
In an alternate edit, we could’ve seen a story of youth and innocence lost in what felt like an assembly cut of a film. It’s a film that would test your patience though in saying all of this, if you were a fan of the director’s previous film Fish Tank, this is a film that will satisfy you in all ways possible. If you haven’t seen it, or even thought nothing of it, American Honey is unbearably boring.
In director Andrea Arnold’s next film, I truly hope that it’s not as ridiculously crazy long as this and if it is, not as repetitive and actually has a progressive storyline where we as the audience actually care about the characters instead of being held at a distance. How anyone could truly feel this film was any semblance of a masterpiece is kidding themselves as it’s a truly pretentious film in the likes of Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia and the rest of his films that are more style then substance that just becomes tiresome. If you’re willingly going into this film, I wish you luck.