When you consider the way road movies work, they seem very simple: One person or a group of people travel from point A to point B and on their way encounter things. A good road movie however is much more, characters gain new insights and learn more about themselves because they are facing situations they haven’t encountered before. You got consider these type of movies to be extremely concentrated version of life, where it isn’t about the destination, but the journey itself.
Star (Sasha Lane) doesn’t exactly live a nice life. She has to take care of two small kids who aren’t hers, is abused and is constantly fighting with the people who should be caring about her. When she meets Jake (Shia LaBeouf) and his crew at a supermarket she feels a connection. He introduces himself and asks her if she wants to go with him. She decides to leave her hopeless existence behind her and join a huge group of teenagers/people in their twenties on their journey through America while they enjoy loud music, alcohol and drugs. The leader of the group is Krystal (Riley Keough), who has a couple of strict rules Star has to follow. In order to make money the members of the group try to sell magazines. Those who sell the least are forced to fight each other. Jake takes care of Star and the two start to develop feelings for each other. As relationships amongst the group are not allowed this makes it difficult. At the same time Star, who is very friendly and trustful, learns more about herself.
I saw American Honey in January, but three months later I can say it is a movie which has stuck with me. That’s not only because of the amazing acting performance by Sasha Lane (and Shia LaBeaouf), but also the way the film shows a different side of America. This isn’t glamorous, it shows the poor neighbourhoods, sprawling landscapes, truck stops and the subculture of the group. You could almost compare the group with the wild children in Kids, but in a different phase of their lives. It is shot beautifully with lots of detail. On many levels it is an emotional movie and already one of my favorites this year.