American Honey: Movie Review
Still a bit raw from last year’s shut out of the movie Carol. However I was intrigued by the pic above because I thought that Rihanna was doing her fake lesbian shtick again.
Sasha Lane and her American Honey director Andrea Arnold make for a chic duo, but after watching this movie, not so much.
Sasha Lane knew something big was going to happen to her. She couldn’t have predicted the details – being plucked from obscurity by filmmaker Andrea Arnold and chosen to star in her Cannes-acclaimed feature film “American Honey” – but she had an inkling of something special waiting for her.
Independent Spirit Award for Best Director
2017 · Andrea Arnold
movie review by TEKgirl
It’s road trip movie about group of teenagers that sell magazine subscriptions, consisting of Star (Sasha Lane) a teenager living in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She takes care of two younger children while being groped by their father, and Jake (Shia LaBeouf), who she meets after followinmg him to a local Walmart. When his phone drops out of his pocket she follows him to the parking lot to give it back him and he kisses her on the cheek and tells her to come with him to Kansas where he will offer her a job.
I watched this movie and it was kind of a mixture of documentaries that have teens and young adults as the subject, movies like: Streetwise (1984) and American Teen (2008) peppered with a heavy dose of annoying as shit acting from: Shia LaBeouf as Jake, who in between play fighting and dancing atop WalMart checkout counters, engages in some pistol play and sex scenes with Lane.
Every time I thought that this movie would take an adult turn in character development like when Star intelligently challenges a mother who Jake is attempting to sell a magazine subscription to.
In some movies Teens take on some air of responsibility and try to figure things out independently, or maybe I am projecting my own teen years.
The two are asked to leave the woman’s home and what happens next?
No intelligent dialogue, just kid shit like Star chasing after Jake demanding he give her a present that he said he had for her.
Or the time that Star is picked up by three strangers in cowboy hats. They bring her to their home where they offer to buy several of her magazines if she drinks the worm at the bottom of a bottle of mezcal. Star does so and Jake however, fearing the worst, arrives, threatening the men with a gun before stealing their car. Again I thought: Finally some action. What happens Nest? Well they stole the car and Star stands up while Jake drives and yells Woo Hoo or something.
Now I wasn’t expecting teens to give me an adult oriented premise. However in coming of age movies, there is usually a fleeting flash of maturity and maybe this is what the director was trying to achieve, but every time the characters started to behave with a modicum of sense they seemed to to lose so quickly it left me irritated.
So basically I was suckered in by seeing a photo of the director Andrea Arnold and lead actress Sasha Lane behaving like gay girls and watched the movie.
The movie is almost 3 hours long, which is Too long by at least an hour.
More could have been communicated and it would have had more to say if it said less, instead of being stretched out to an incomprehensibly epic length, it is hard to see it as anything other than wasted potential..
Lane was still just a teenager when Arnold discovered her on a Miami beach smack in the middle of spring break and cast her in the free-wheeling opus about a hard-partying magazine crew. At the time, Lane was a student at Texas State University in San Marcos, taking classes in psychology and social work, but she felt like something was missing. And she also felt like something was going to change for her once she went to Miami.
“I went on that trip because something felt like it was missing and I was just so lost and kind of hopeless, but I had a feeling,” Lane recently told IndieWire. “I had the strongest feeling that there was something that was going to happen, and I didn’t know what it was, but I was just trying to hold onto that.”
When asked if she considers herself an intuitive person, Lane answered with an emphatic “definitely, definitely yes,” but even she seems struck by the circumstances that led to her involvement with Arnold and the film.
“She came up to me and was just, ‘I’m Andrea. I’m doing this movie. I know this sounds weird,’ and Editor\s NOTE: the rest is really a blur to me,” Lane remembered.
Editor’s NOTE: Ever notioce how people who are appearing in popular or otherwise noteworthy events NEVER achieve their position the “Old Fashioned” way by auditioning at a casting call? It’s always something like: I was sitting alone on a beach or in a McDonald’s and rhis “director’ or ‘model agent’ apprached me and asked me to be in their film, or on the cover of a magazine.
“I was kind of in the midst of like, ‘Yes, yes, okay. Sure, whatever,’ but I told her she could come to my hotel that night, and I didn’t think she’d come.”
Arnold did make it to Lane’s hotel room, and the feelings that their initial meeting and conversation stirred in the soon-to-be-star – Lane remembers feeling as the British filmmaker could really see her “spirit” – only grew stronger.
“We just kind of connected on a lot of things,” Lane said. “She just saw me, she really looked at me. I’m so used to being just like all the other kids, just discarded and seen as not worthy of someone’s time, not worthy of being considered special and beautiful and different. She embraced all of that.”
Arnold, who had previously cast another actress in the lead role that would become known as “Star,” was also looking for something special when struck out for Miami: A fresh face who could make the recently vacated role her own. She found that in Lane.
Arnold asked Lane to delay returning to Texas for another week, and the pair spent that extra time running through improv scenarios meant to stretch Lane’s ability to translate emotion and experience to the big screen, basic exercises that often ended up framing up scenes that made the final film (and informing the character of Star).
“I remember being in a Wal-mart parking lot with one of the girls who was also in the film who just danced on a truck, and that was part of my auditioning,” Lane said. “There was another person that came to the side of the car, and she said, ‘Okay, she’s going to ask you to get in the car, and you kind of hold off a bit and then do it,’ but it was just how I would react to certain things, what she’s looking for.”
An Intimate Shoot
By the time the week was over, both Lane and Arnold knew she was the right person for the role.
“I just felt really whole, and it felt like the right decision to make, to say yes,” Lane said. “I think that was what I was looking for, but I didn’t know what exactly it was. It worked out in such a perfect way.”
Mere weeks later, Lane was in production on her first film. Because of the way Arnold crafted her feature – the film was shot over 56 days in a variety of locations, with a cast that was largely “street cast” like Lane – the early feelings that the newbie actress felt for her filmmaker endured well into shooting. The film follows a “mag crew” that zig and zag across the American Midwest, knocking on doors to sell their wares during the day, partying hard at night, and generally bonding in unmistakably pure way.
“It was very intimate,” Lane said of the film’s production. “The energy in the film is very much the energy off-set. It’s a bunch of different people thrown together. We just formed these instant bonds and I think we were all looking for something, so we just kind of attached to each other and attached to that type of living. It was just free.”
For a first-time actress, nothing could have been more appealing or appropriate than a shoot rooted in the kind of intimacy and spirit that proves paramount to the final product. And it may have given Lane the boost to fully pursue her newfound career beyond “American Honey.” Although Lane wasn’t looking to be an actress when Arnold found her, she does admit that the life of a performer had appealed to her before she got her big break.
“As far as the idea of portraying certain characters and making people feel a certain way, I thought it would be cool,” Lane said. “But everything else with it, like the acting school and theater and having to be in front of people and the attention and the way I saw Hollywood, it wasn’t appealing enough for me to want to pursue that type of career.”
Embracing the Unknown
When asked about her perception of Hollywood before “American Honey,” Lane’s response was telling. “It didn’t seem very real or raw,” she said. “It seemed very pretentious and overlooking a lot of things that were really close and personal to me. It just didn’t seem very authentic.”
That’s certainly not how Lane thinks now, and the actress added that her work on the film made her realize that there’s not just authentic work to be made, but authentic people to make it with. There are a few experienced faces in “American Honey,” including Shia LaBeouf, who plays the magnetic Jake, responsible for pulling Star into mag crew life to begin with, and Riley Keough as the mag crew’s iron-fisted and spray-tanned leader, Krystal.
Over the course of shooting the film and embarking on a months-long marketing push, Lane and Keough have grown very close – a glance at both actresses’ social media accounts reveals how much time they spend with each other, and during a recent party thrown in support of the film at TIFF, they gleefully line-danced beside each other while the film’s infectious soundtrack blared across a packed bar. That bond seems to be helping Lane get even more comfortable with the spotlight.
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