American Honey

American Honey ★★★★½

After the final shot of American Honey ended and the credits began to roll. I sat there staring blankly, as names popped up and disappeared, unable to get up and take DVD out of the player. I tried thinking about everything that I had seen over the past three hours, and struggled to make heads or tails of it.

I figured I should give it a few days to set in, before I actually tried to give my conclusive thoughts on it.

So I here I am a few days later, and let me be honest, although my thoughts on this film are anything but conclusive, I feel like I’m at the point where I can talk about and describe what makes this film so great so great.

As you most likely already know American Honey is a coming-of-age story about poor, wild, reckless kids travelling across the country selling magazine subscriptions to survive. Andrea Arnold uses this “shell,” (as I would scarcely call it a plot) to display the current generation, pretty much as it is. There’s no glorification of the characters and actions, they aren’t depicted in a way that raises that would make them appear higher better or more meaningful than they are. Our band of the characters and the sprawling, seemingly endless world that they inhabit are shown for what they are. One of the most common criticisms I see of this film, is that “the characters aren’t likable.” While I agree that the characters are most definitely flawed human beings, hating them isn’t really fair. They're just people trying to make what they can out of themselves and the place their in.

After a while of watching American Honey, a wonderful thing happens, the boundaries and restrictions of the medium slowly begin to melt away, and you feel like you’re on this journey with these character.

A great example of what I mean when I say that American Honey “displays these people and their world for what they are,” is its soundtrack. It’s mostly made of stuff I personally dislike, modern top 40 pop and copy-and-paste trap rap, but the film does an excellent job of using them. For one it’s appropriate that the film uses these type of songs, because the film is trying to break through the boundaries of the medium, and bring the viewer into the world of these people, which as i’ve already said it succeeds at. It would almost be inappropriate to have the soundtrack be some glossy beautiful orchestral masterpiece, because the film is about the lowest of the low in our society. It may have worked in Moonlight, but American Honey is trying to accomplish something very different from Moonlight, so comparing would be illogical and stupid. Moonlight was about finding yourself, while American Honey is about being yourself.

Plus if you’re a pretentious hipster like me, they do play Mazzy Star’s Fade Into You, so there’s no real reason to complain about the soundtrack.

American Honey isn’t really like a “movie,” there isn’t really any plot and the film is completely structureless its beginning and ending points are completely arbitrary, both could be changed with nothing being lost. No instead American Honey is something of a wild, unpredictable trip, that you can go on at any time when you want to be completely free.

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