- Product Rating -

Art House Asshole : American Honey

| October 7, 2016

You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of American Honey.

God damn I needed this. By this time last year, I had a good amount of truly great films from the year that I could say belong in my top ten. Right now I only have two films there, but this is one of them. After all of the bad art house and indie films (White Girl, Anti-Viral) it is so good to have not only a great film but an artistic experience. I honestly struggle to start this review because I have not idea where to begin.

American Honey, directed by Andrea Arnold from Fishtank fame, is both beautiful and garbage at the same time. American Honey follows a young woman, played by newcomer Sasha Lane, who joins a group of misfits, lead by Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough, to sell magazines across the country for easy cash. Regardless of how you feel about this film, it is important to understand that this film is real. This is one of the most brutal views of millennial culture I’ve seen in a long time, but it is also one of the most realistic views. These people are very much alive and whether you like it or not, these people are the majority of millennials. You might not like these characters. You might be disgusted by the events in this film and hate every word that comes out of the mouths of these characters. But that is kind of the point.

If you are in the boat that hates Shia LaBeouf, please see this film. It might not help your hatred. But this is the best performance I have seen him give probably ever. LaBeouf is a strange creature who went from being an action star to being an art house actor. It almost never happens, in fact, I can’t think of another moment where this has happened, but I respect LaBeouf for doing it. He does exactly what he wants whenever he wants. And oh my god he is fantastic in this film. You never know if you should trust him or if he is full of crap or if he is just a straight up idiot. He performs this character so well that he drags the audience through so much that you never want to see him but you can’t look away.

You can say that about a majority of this film. American Honey is like a dumpster fire, a beautiful and majestic dumpster fire. You either don’t care if it burns to the ground or you want to see it burn. Regardless, you can’t take your eyes off of it. There is a mesmerizing factor to the film, it can be disgusting but you can’t look away. The one thing I will say is that I feel that the older you are the more you will dislike the film. This film is a product of its time, and if you aren’t part of the millennial generation this might not work for you in any shape or form. Halfway through watching this film I realized that there is probably an age where if you are older than that age, you will not like this film. I will guess that age is 32.

Another thing worth mentioning is the aspect ratio of the film. I will say that whenever a film chooses to change their aspect ratio from the standard, I will immediately start to like the film more. I don’t know what it is about it, but I love it. The film is presented in 1.37 aspect ratio which makes it look a little bigger than a perfect cube. The film takes advantage of this by having the camera often be very close to the actors and very much in the action. It reminded me a lot of the cinematography in Son of Saul if that helps you figure it out. Every shot in this film is beautiful. The shots actually remind me of Instagram photos surprisingly. I’m not sure if that was on purpose to fit the theme of millennial culture, but if it is props to the film.

The only real complaint I have about the film is that it feels very long. There were a couple moments at the end where I was waiting for the film to wrap up. There were three moments that I thought, this is probably the last scene. I’m not considering this a huge issue because afterward, I started thinking about what wasn’t necessary to the film and I feel like everything in the film was necessary, the script being much tighter than I imagined it would have been. So I think the real complaint here comes down to the pacing of the film.

Recommending this film is tricky. This film is for a very specific audience. If you are in your twenties watch it and I think you will enjoy it a lot, you will be surprised at how oddly relatable the film is. If you are in your thirties I don’t imagine you will like the story or the characters, you might just find it annoying if you don’t just focus on the cinematography and other beautiful elements of the film. If you are in your forties or higher, you will hate this film and might even see it as a straight up horror film. If you have college age kids, do not watch this film. I’m pretty sure my mom is going to call me and have a serious conversation with me after watching this film.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.

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