American Honey     review by Bobby Blakey

Some of the more interesting films out there are those smaller budget ones that come in under the radar. When I saw the trailers for American Honey I wasn’t blown away, but was intrigued by the direction the story looked to go with this young cast. Could this film be one of those surprise treats or will the whole thing be a scam?

American Honey follows Star, a free-spirited teenager on the brink of adulthood who leaves her troubled home in the American Midwest and hits the road with a “mag crew,” itinerant laborers who peddle publications door-to-door for long hours during the day and party hard at night, never certain where the job will lead next. Led by hard-driving manager Krystal and her seductive enforcer Jake, the 15-strong 071 Crew becomes a surrogate family to Star, offering hope, possibility, love and the freedom that comes from being on the road. This film features a relative unknown cast outside of Shia LaBeouf who is superb in the role. Over the years he has gotten a lot of flak for his crazy antics, but this film gives him the chance to showcase his true talent as an actor. In her debut role is Sasha Lane as Star who the film focuses on. She brings innocence to the role without ever seeming like a victim or weak. These two have great chemistry together despite their dysfunctional type of relationship. Every once in a while you think you know where they are going together, but then it consistently throws you a curve ball.

Visually this film is beautiful to watch with it showcasing Middle America and making it apart of the story. This is both an excellent part of the film and the part that kind of hurts it at times. There is so much time spent at random visuals that do not further the film that it just starts to feel dragged out. The same can be said for some of the moments where the gang is on the road. They have a few great moments where they are just rambling nonsense in the fan allowing all the actors to do their thing, but they do it so often it begins to feel like what is the point as none of these moments really go anywhere. It is a shame because they are great moments for the most part, but just felt like a waste of time after a while. The overall story is really interesting seeing these kids fighting across the American landscape to survive like this and their own little culture they created for themselves. It never feels fake and makes you see the side of the world that will make you think about life decisions and where they take you.

This is a film that delivers everything you need for a great story including some excellent performances, compelling characters, interesting story and great visuals, but just runs too long for the story they are telling. Some will find the ending a bit frustrating as it doesn’t really have a resolution to it all, but instead is more like real life and just completes one aspect of this character’s journey in life to find her place.

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