As the cast of Andrea Arnold’s American Honey took to the Cannes red carpet this past week dancing to E-40’s ‘Choices (YUP)’, critics should have already had an idea of the cinematic ride on which they were about to embark.
Her latest film is described as an “American picaresque’ in which a teenage runaway joins a band of young misfits selling magazine subscriptions cross-country. According to critics, the film relies less on plot and more on the level of a girl-power character study told through dynamic visuals and soundtrack. The film stars newcomer Sasha Lane as Star as well as Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road) and Shia LaBeouf (Fury) as the group’s ringleader and her top seller, respectively.
As Arnold’s fourth feature film, and first set in the US, it proved to many critics to be a taste of the auteur’s potential for great and innovative filmmaking. The writer-director won an Oscar in 2003 for her short film Wasp, which depicted a young English woman raising four children on her own when she lies about her motherhood to an ex-boyfriend in order to go on her first date in years. Arnold’s other projects include Wuthering Heights starring Kaya Scodelario (Maze Runner) and the critically acclaimed Fish Tank starring Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs).
In American Honey, audiences responded to Arnold’s combination of a bright and eye-grabbing color-palate with similarly toned soundtrack selections, particularly the perfect placement of the Calvin Harris-Rihanna EDM hit “We Found Love”. Critics praise Lane in her film debut, but give a lot of their attention to LaBeouf, whom many claim to have delivered his greatest performance to date.
Despite a nearly-three hour run time which some lamented as dragging an otherwise captivating film, American Honey sounds to be well on its way to putting Arnold on the map of great indie filmmakers. A24 picked up the movie well before its release back in January. The young distribution company has made this behavior part of their M.O., nabbing potential indie hits before they are on anyone else’s radar. A24 has not yet set a theatrical release date for the film.