Andrea Arnold’s debut movie, Red Road, is a shocking social documentary style movie that is breathtaking in its boldness and unflinching in its depiction of a Glasgow underclass that most of us do not know. American Honey does a similar job of depicting an American class that’s seldom caught on screen and was cast mainly from the street.
It too is pretty unflinching in its depiction of drug taking, young sex and the unwinding of an American dream; of sorts.
It’s a road movie that follows the fortunes of 18 year old abused runaway, Star, and her relationship with a group of young magazine salespeople touring the country looking for door to door sales in a variety of American housing schemes (both rich and poor).
It leads to an episodic series of events that range from amusing to totally horrific.
Arnold’s style is uncompromising. It, like Grand Budapest Hotel, is shot in square (Instagram) format which gives it a certain contemporaneity and the photography, that is mainly cinema verite, occasionally bursts into beautiful, glorious, rich warmth such that it takes your breath away.
It’s a compelling performance by Sasha Lane as Star and Shia LaBeouf also impresses as her mentor and, later, lover. Riley Keogh is also excellent as the aloof, slightly terrifying team leader who lives a separate life of relative luxury while her band of stoner sales people rough it in hostels.
But it’s an uncomfortable ride that rewards your patience.