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American Honey

Arts Review2016-10-14By: Marc Glassman

American Honey
Andrea Arnold, director and writer
Starring: Sasha Lane (Star), Shia LaBeouf (Jake), Arielle Homes (Pagan), Riley Keough (Krystal)

The story:  Teenage drifter Star hooks up with a band of youths who sell magazine subscription for a living. Krystal (played by Riley Keough, Elvis Presley’s granddaughter) utterly dominates them but they’re given enough freedom so they stay with her. Star falls for Jake who is Krystal’s main boyfriend, which causes a lot of tension among the three. The kids party incessantly and work tirelessly as they drive in a bus across the American Midwest.

The style: 
Arnold is a genuine auteur, who is especially good at showing the random acts of young people trying to discover themselves. Her camera eye is discerning and she rarely uses words when actions can work better.

The award:  Won the Prix du Jury (third most prestigious prize) at Cannes 2016. Previously she won an Oscar for her short Wasp in 2004.


The reviews: Most critics at Cannes and TIFF lauded the film. For example, Indiewire’s Eric Kohn wrote, “With only four movies in 10 years, director Andrea Arnold has developed a rich filmography that other filmmakers spend decades trying to accumulate…American Honey invokes the explosive sense of liberty that comes with living dangerously.”

My take: It’s a terrific film. Arnold is a genuine talent. My only concern is that the film is too long. At least half an hour could be cut from the film’s 163 minutes. But it is a wonderful road movie—and a fascinating British look at America today.

Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus

Tune in to hear Marc Glassman’s Art Reviews
Friday’s at 9:07am on Good Day GTA.


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