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American Honey

Star (Sasha Lane) is a teenager who meets Jake (Shia LaBeouf) in a grocery store parking lot, and he gives her an invitation to come and work with them in Kansas City. After an unwanted sexual encounter with a man that she calls “daddy”, she dropped her little brother and sister off with her mother and heads out with Jake and the other young people who sell magazines door to door and pay the majority of their earnings to Crystal (Riley Keough). This is an interesting film, one that I had to think about for a day to process how I felt about it. It is shot in such a way that it feels like a documentary, and what turns out to be a rather interesting road trip provides views into a cross-section of the multiple American cultures. The young people are themselves kids who lived on the margins and seemed to find comradery and a sense of belonging with the group. The acting is good; Shia LaBeouf and Sasha Lane are both really good (I understand Lane had never acted before, and I was really drawn to her in many of the scenes). Keough was amazing as the drug and alcohol-zoned manager (I thought she was one of the best things about the movie). But there were things that I found odd. First, and I have to admit I struggled with this – magazines? What young kids sell magazines door to door anymore? This may happen, but I wasn’t getting it. I wasn’t particularly drawn to the music – a couple of the songs seemed rather misplaced for the era. It is very long – almost 3 hours; there were several places where it seemed like it should end but then kept on going (the actual end was pretty good). I really didn’t feel like I got to know much about the others except for where they are from.  Having written all of this, it gets a thumbs up from me as a movie that I struggled with a bit but, in the end, is a pretty fascinating road trip and has a few moments of beauty. It definitely won’t be for everyone (I would be interested in younger movie lovers if this particular film resonated), and it is one of those can be easily be seen as a rental when it comes available.

About Gary Burkholder

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