In winning the ‘Prix du Jury’ prize at the Cannes Film Festival, big things were expected from American Honey. However, reluctantly, much of the audience seemed jaded after 45 minutes, with a few older couples’ even leaving, and once the next 2 hours had played out, it was clear the viewers was uninterested to say the least.
Director Andrea Arnold has succeeded in dragging out a coming-of-age ‘road trip’, in which adolescent ‘Star’ (Sasha Lane) runs away from a background of unfortunate events after acquainting Shia LaBeouf (Jake) when he is stood atop a till in a Walmart style setting, singing ‘We Found Love in a Hopeless Place’. After leaving the little she has at home, Lane embarks on a journey of magazine sales and partying throughout rural America, where she succumbs to Jake’s charm and personality, which includes drugs and thievery.
Much seems amiss about American Honey, many scenes make little sense. With very little plot to actually follow, the viewers are left trying to make sense of what is really happening. For example, when a trio of cowboys appear after an argument erupts between Star and Jake, Star takes off in their car, yet Jake somehow manages to follow on foot and find them in their house, without knowing who they were or where they were headed causing further mischief – unrealistic to say the least.
Arnold has attempted to create a chick flick, focussing on the story of a character, Star, but has missed out the importance of a plot, leaving the film lacking in substance. Much of the filming follows close to Lane, showing shots of just her face for much of the film, and when combined with some of the lovely landscape cinematography of rural Oklahoma, this works well. However, there is a real lack in other notable cast members in the van of befallen nobodies who take the road trip with Lane and LaBeouf; perhaps an angle at which Arnold was aiming for, to characterise the outlook on teenagers and young adults as misfits in modern day society.
The movie does display a good catalogue of acting from Lane and LaBeouf, but overall shows a lack of direction and is a disappointing display considering a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It was simply too long and not cliché enough to be a real chick flick, and the length of the film was a real negative considering the lack of plot. If the characters were more relatable, perhaps American Honey would have been more enjoyable, but as it stands it is a film which fails to engage the audience and ultimately falls far short of the ‘coming of age drama’ it was advertised to be.