American Honey

American Honey ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

There's really no coherent way to express what I find so magical and utterly engrossing about this movie, so I'll just highlight two of the many moments that inexplicably gave me chills on this rewatch.

-Right in the middle of one of the tensest scenes in the film, as danger looms over Star in the form of beer-drinking rednecks with questionable (yet never explicitly sinister) intentions, and just before Jake arrives to threaten them with actual physical violence, Star, with her feet in the pool, dips a piece of paper in and innocently saves a bee from drowning.

-Minutes later, as Jake and Star are making their getaway, "Fade Into You" starts playing. They pull over and just before they're about to have sex, Arnold abruptly stops the song. Where any other filmmaker would have the (very suitable) song continue, Arnold ignores the instinct and instead has their first sexual encounter scored by the natural wilderness.

I can't possibly explain what I find so compelling about these (or the countless other) moments that floor me, I just know it showcases Arnold's incredible eye for naturalism and tone. Yes, the film is about culture, class, race, power, abuse, love, and camaraderie, among many other things, but more than anything the film succeeds for me purely as a portrait of the desire to belong. From initial euphoria to bitter disillusionment to reoriented acceptance, Star's adventure across America makes for one of the most beautiful, honest, and personally affecting depictions of friendship I've ever seen.

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