American Honey Screen 37 articles

American Honey

2016

American Honey Poster
  • Directed (rather, “screamed”) by Andrea Arnold, the 162-minute crapfest American Honey has both, but the (again) former Cannes juror’s gross foray into the milieu of young, white-trash door-to-door magazine salesman stands alongside the worst examples of foreign directors trying to tell us about “America.”

  • Following Arnold’s third consecutive Cannes Grand Prix, allow me to suggest another award, this one for lifetime achievement: Most Literal-minded Use of Pop Music. Determined to top the deployment of Nas’ “Life’s a Bitch” at the climax of the 2009 Fish Tank (in which life was a bitch), Arnold kicks off her ode to America with Rihanna’s undeniable “We Found Love” blaring over the loudspeakers at a Wal-Mart, which the now transatlantic auteur takes pains to show is, indeed, a hopeless place.

  • Andrea Arnold’s latest is a rambling, nearly three-hour travelogue, an On the Road for the millennial set. It may capture the no-fucks spirit of today’s disenfranchised youth, but it’s content to indulge and aestheticize their behaviors for empty displays of style. This is Arnold’s lower-class fetishism at its most vacuous and exploitative.

  • Most of American Honey sees Arnold either mounting vague attempts at naturalistic detail or satisfying more facile, disingenuous instincts. Cases of the former usually involve the director inserting random shots of bugs and plants and horses and dogs; in the latter scenarios, she resorts to an even more dispiriting strategy: shock tactics.

  • Arnold’s strenuous gravity and her determination to elide all traces of backstory or interiority are exhausting for as long as you’re prepared to take them seriously, and risible once you’ve given up. Anemic even as it approaches three hours in length, American Honey has as many arresting images as a stock photo gallery, and the same emotional stakes.

  • The movie’s empathetic power moves backward—it arises in retrospect and in the abstract, checking off its truthful and perceptive list of afflictions and responses. Seen as it unfolds, it simplifies and gratifies and, in so doing, condescends both to its poor characters and to its middle-class spectators.

  • This wilful truncating of possibilities for coverage, découpage, and a more flexible directorial “regard” can seem, at moments, defiantly Bressonian. But, as happens even with the Dardennes, the adoption of such a strict parti pris can also create a host of narrational problems (on the level of: who exactly is doing what here?).

  • Random, strange interludes, like one in which Star impulsively jumps into a convertible driven by four white-clad, middle-aged good ol’ boys (one of them played by Will Patton, who improves any film in which he unexpectedly appears), serve Arnold’s heated vision much more than does Honey’s rather conventional, interminably drawn-out coming-of-age romance.

  • The movie feels like it could go on forever, and doesn’t quite have an ending. That’s probably intentional – the grind never ends— but it also means that this often exhilarating film regularly flirts with tedium.

  • Arnold’s overlong but strangely unexpansive picture of truly exaggerated Americana lacks the critical distance of a film like Harmony Korine’s Springbreakers (which American Honey takes much from, down to the stunt casting of LaBeouf akin to James Franco in that film), taking her white youths at oversimplified face value.

  • Character and anecdote are sacrificial lambs before American Honey’s central fixation of cranking up the drama of the everyday, forgetting to give its version of the everyday any ring of truth. It runs before it can walk. There is no familiarity or gravitas. American Honey is too restless and impatient to establish anything and instead rides high on an obviously fabricated atmosphere.

  • Several directions for the film are suggested, but, disappointingly, none are decisively taken by Arnold, and American Honey’s inconclusiveness after more than two-and-a-half hours is a little hard to swallow. Moreover, certain aspects of the film come off as derivative – a dance scene to Rihanna recalls Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood, while LaBeouf’s character is redolent of James Franco’s turn as Alien in Spring Breakers, and his laboured clowning detracts from the film as a whole.

  • Many individual scenes stand out throughout the film’s 162 minutes... As the film grinds on, however, the lack of a strong thematic through-line becomes increasingly enervating. It’s as if Arnold intended to make some grand statement about America as a land of deception and reinvention, but never bothered to clarify that vision by adding any details.

  • This is a patchwork dystopia of white poverty whose facets are difficult both to deny and to prove exist precisely as depicted. Whether it’s during the inevitable music-montage catharsis that allows Star to see her surrounding ensemble as the kids they are or LeBeouf’s performance, American Honey‘s power will wane according to how many times you’ve heard this song before.

  • Over and over, American Honey calls attention to how observant it is, rather than just being observant. It’s as if Arnold assumes that we wouldn’t be able to care about kids trying to change their lives by fighting for scraps dropped from the capitalist table. American Honey trusts more in our heartlessness than in our compassion. Even if–maybe especially if–that’s a tragically accurate assumption, bullying us into caring isn’t going to help.

  • As both outlaw romance and band-of-outsiders revel, American Honey proudly flouts such core narrative-film values as discipline and direction—if you never quite know where it is going, well, that is because it has no idea itself. The audacity of the thing is estimable, but as a viewing experience it is, in due course, highly taxing.

  • All of the pseudo-documentary affectations are present and accounted for here, but the film is sorely missing the conspiratorial sense of firsthand insider information that distinguished Kids... Maybe 1 x 1 = 1, and a cigar is just a cigar, and a hot trailer park teen is just a hot trailer park teen? Maybe this faux-naive approach collapses under its own weight into a pile of vacant woolgathering? Maybe this movie is a mess because America is too? Maybe there are better ways to spend your time?

  • It’s a profoundly banal point of view, made all the more dire by a punishing 163-minute runtime. The film’s attempted intersection of pop, stylized fantasy, sketchy feminism, and class warfare is basically cribbed from the far more electric Spring Breakers, but with an added, self-sabotaging layer of seriousness.

  • As American Honey rambles along, blending a ruralized Ashcan lyricism with Arnold’s familiarly tender metaphoric nature imagery (including butterflies, insects, and dogs), it makes too literal its diegetic and extradiegetic use of pop songs—mostly in the trap music, country, and hip-hop genres. It is seldom a good idea for a filmmaker to illustrate an emotion or an event with a song chosen for its pertinence to the narrative, simply because it undercuts the power of the images.

  • While American Honey exudes ample energy, this episodic piece doesn’t muster much narrative drive over its daunting running time of two and three quarter hours. There’s probably a stronger, tighter film in here, but fair game at least to Arnold in her commitment to following the winding back roads of filmic experiment rather than the well-mapped highway of storytelling.

  • It could, admittedly, have used more than a few cuts itself, but you can see why Arnold didn’t: this is a film about a journey, physical and figurative, without a destination and could never have been a tight 90 minutes. That said, Arnold’s sparing use of humour, including touches like a nine-year-old girl sweetly singing Dead Kennedy’s ‘I Kill Children’, prevents the film from dragging too much.

  • I should say, I have never really liked any of Andrea Arnold's films. With that said, American Honey mostly charmed me because of its build-in paradox. The grandiose title (taken from a Lady Antebellum song), together with the sprawling running time, imply a major statement, one that defines not only the Zeitgeist but serves as a summative gesture for the filmmaker. American Honey comes on like Arnold's Zabriskie Point, or at the very least her Somewhere.

  • I admired this picture for a number of things, including Arnold’s disinclination to sentimentalize her protagonist. And then in the final fifth she goes and sentimentalizes her protagonist. Oh well.

  • Arnold's command of the movie's meandering structure makes "American Honey" continually fascinating, no matter how much it lingers on ephemeral exchanges and aimless feuds. It's a magisterial achievement that builds on her previous accomplishments while stretching beyond the constraints of their cleaner narratives.

  • Part dreamy millennial picaresque, part distorted tapestry of Americana and part exquisitely illustrated iTunes musical, “Honey” daringly commits only to the loosest of narratives across its luxurious 162-minute running time. Yet it’s constantly, engrossingly active, spinning and sparking and exploding in cycles like a Fourth of July catherine wheel.

  • Although Arnold’s style has always involved a physicality and search for the visceral, her screenplay here is much looser than in her previous work; there is no classic three-act structure, no resolution. As she tries to find a cinematic language to depict this group of outsiders, she builds on the relentless energy of the actors (whose ensemble work is amazing), orchestrating gorgeous moments of release in dancing, fighting, and fireworks.

  • It’s a film that moves from one random heightened moment to the next in order to soak it up and it’s packed with lustrous images and tantalising unresolved themes.

  • The film injects a visceral human element into the spaces where hard reporting doesn’t. That’s in part thanks to Arnold’s great talent for capturing private moments people have when they don’t think others are looking and color-saturated shots that allow languid details, like ants crawling over French fries, to take over the frame. Most impressively, American Honey hard-wins its nearly three-hour length by making the audience grow *through* the characters instead of alongside them.

  • It’s perhaps the cardinal sin of festival reporting to compare back-to-back film experiences, but Andrea Arnold’s American Honey unfolding before me in IMAX size shortly after I left the Morris screening [The B-Side] meant the resonance of those words lasted the entire film and into the next morning.

  • “How’d they do that?” After the credits roll, when the lights come up, and I’m sitting in the theater speechless, it’s the question that runs through my head on repeat. Not how did they do that certain shot or visual effect or impressive action sequence, but more like how did the filmmakers and his/her collaborators make me feel this way … and keep me feeling this way for hours, days, weeks after the movie ended. How did they do this to me?

  • With its jagged rhythms, thistle-rough textures and dreamy, star-spangled lyricism, “American Honey” is less a character study than a full-on sensory immersion in a young woman’s rapidly shifting consciousness. It’s also an impromptu musical, a go-for-broke generational snapshot and a shimmering deconstruction of the romance of the open road, not to mention an actual romance.

  • Since its premiere at Cannes Film Festival this year American Honey has had critics fuming: many see it as a self indulgent, aimless extravaganza about young, whackily glamorous people on a road to nowhere. But Andrea Arnold, previously responsible for a racially reflective adaptation of Wuthering Heights in 2011, gets to the core of contemporary juvenile experience – in a country that relegates many people like Star to the margins. Their drifting desires are the fuel American Honey runs on.

  • Star's essential virtue, taking care of neglected children and dreaming of a trailer and family of her own, distinguishes her from her fellow travellers, chasing paper money down the highway. Within a glittering collage of soaring music, soft light and writhing bodies, this brilliant film draws the outline of a bleak economic landscape.

  • The film works in large part because of Lane's anonymity, and also because of Arnold's nonjudgmental framing. A lesser director might have mounted Star's story as a morality play, while a more prurient male filmmaker might have viewed her as a sex object instead of the agent of her own story and owner of her own desires. Despite an implied history of sexual abuse and neglect, Star never seems like a victim of circumstance.... She is irreducible, and thus interesting.

  • The British film that totally nailed it this year in both aesthetic and content was Andrea Arnold’s much anticipated American Honey. If great filmmakers were considered national treasures, Arnold would surely be on the shortlist... Arnold marries a naturalistic cinematic beauty with the harsh realities of social deprivation. The film is worthy of high praise and I consider it a modern masterpiece.

  • I found so much beauty in those young ones, the filmmaking, just the way Arnold allows them to take to the road and _feel_ it, feel new love, feel fear, feel their sex, that the celluloid almost seems tangible. Like you could touch this movie. It's that vibrant and alive.

  • An epic film shot almost exclusively handheld and in 4:3; a coming-of-age proclamation that’s uncannily wise beyond its years; a road movie that eschews genre clichés... For me, it’s tied with Kelly Reichardt’s CERTAIN WOMEN as my favorite film of 2016; both are about women from small places who lead small lives, but with big hearts.

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