Experience Flirtation and Manipulation in Modern Film: AMERICAN HONEY

American Honey Film Review
By Bri Lamontagne (DJ Bri)

This film is a modern story of young people living a bohemian lifestyle while selling magazines door-to-door and how Star, played by Sasha Lane, joins and tries to fit in with the group after leaving her miserable life of responsibility and struggle to make and find her way in the world. She also has to determine whether or not she wants to fit in with the group, because while they have created their own miniature family and society, she doesn’t agree with all of their selling methods. They’ve got the Newsies style of selling magazines: make up whatever story about the magazine or about yourself that will get people to buy the product. The main male lead, played by Shia LeBeouf, manipulates her with mind games, flirtation, and petty thievery to get what he wants from her. There’s also drama that comes with living in such a tight community with a large number of people, which is authentically shown by the film in a documentary style.

When it comes to sex in films, I like how it’s represented here. It’s movies like this that show the realistic aspects of sex and the fact that asking for consent for all manner of things during sex won’t “ruin the mood”.

Though actress who plays Star is not white, and I’m not sure of Shia LeBeouf’s ancestry, this film doesn’t seem as diverse in race as I would expect for a movie set in the Southern USA. There is one scene with a group of people of color, but otherwise the cast – while diverse in personality-styles and sexuality – is pretty white-washed.

The film features a cameo or two from more well-known actors like Will Patton. It’s filled with irreverent humor and language. The soundtrack is also quite diverse, ranging through Rap, Hip-Hop, Pop, Country, Folk, and Rock music. The title derives from the Lady A song “American Honey” about women raised in the Southern USA, though the song itself doesn’t make an appearance in the film until close to the end.

American Honey shows an optimistic side of meeting strangers in the world, or at least a realistic one in that not all the strangers a young woman meets alone in the world will take advantage and treat her poorly, but some will try. She even has a passive encounter with a bear. It has some darker moments, though. This is a coming of age story: on her adventures, Star is able to figure out what she wants for her life, but she has to lose herself along the way to making her dreams come true. The film ends on an ambiguous note, not really showing where her path will take her next.

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