American Honey: A middle of the road road-trip movie

There’s something to be said for the beauty of nothingness. In fact just this morning I heard part of an interview with Charlie Brooker in which he fondly remembered times of meh in politics as opposed to the lunacy of the current climate. In a cinematic context though; perhaps you could argue that audiences don’t necessarily always need to be blown away by special effects, character development or twists and turns in storylines. However, that’s not to say a story in which nothing really happens will be able to hold a viewer’s attention. Certainly not for three hours in my opinion. American Honey has all of the right ingredients of what you’d expect from a coming of age, naturalistic, existential road-trip film. It’s avant-garde. It’s raw. It’s got the beautifully edited scenic camera shots that break away from the narrative. And yet for an art film, it felt like it was trying too hard to be just that. The panned camera shots were too frequent to have the desired effect of breaking away from the plot. Instead they felt almost like a storyline in themselves. As though perhaps this was actually a nature documentary with dialogue and some quirky characters thrown in for good measure. Its artistry felt predictable and at times, forced. One thing I will commend though is it’s ability to portray a very middle of the road experience. There were no truly shocking dark moments as such; even though certain instances set the scene in which you expected them to occur. There were no clear lessons or messages put forward by the film. It was simply a road trip film challenging the ideologies of the American dream, attempting to give an accurate portrayal of the desperation felt by some to make money and survive. And you as the viewer were just along for the ride. 

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