OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

American Honey

By the director of Fish Tank and Red Road

American Honey is British director Andrea Arnold’s Wizard Of Oz, a vibrant and epic journey across the U.S. that sees a young woman named Star (impressive newcomer Sasha Lane) attempt to find a place to call home. It’s a rite of passage road trip that is incredible to behold, utterly transportive and packed full of wickedly alluring choreography and tunes.

Poster for Andrea Arnold's new drama American HoneyWhen 18-year-old Star spots a rowdy group of teens in a supermarket singing and dancing along to Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’ she’s instantly intrigued. She meets Jake (powerful work from a deliciously gross Shia LaBeouf, sporting a ratty braid and fanny pack), who asks her to come along to Kansas City and join a crew of door-to-door magazine sellers. She’s hooked by his cocky attitude and soon starts falling for his charms, because anything seems brighter than her present state of affairs – living in an abusive home as a stand-in mother for two kids who aren’t her own.

Along the way she visits wealthy homes with emerald green lawns and meets friendly cowboys with wild horses. She sings along to Bruce Springsteen with a trucker, and learns to take risks and let loose. Her relationship with Jake is portrayed as a heady romance, with the two exploring one another in sun-dappled fields and convertible cars. The group of youths she travels with on the open road are a mix of pot-smoking, vodka-swilling lost boys and girls who work hard and party hard, and the performances are suitably naturalistic. They are ruled over by the straight-talking Krystal (Riley Keough), whose capitalist agenda encourages them to exploit whoever they can to get what they need.

The pumping, almost continual blast of music includes songs from Lady Antebellum, E-40, Kevin Gates and Fetty Wap; accompanied by the evocative cinematography of Robbie Ryan, this conspires to create a spine-tingling and uplifting tale of untamed youth and rebellion. This is passionate and ambitious filmmaking from Arnold.

– Katherine McLachlin, The List
 

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