American Honey

LetterboxD review link

“My favorite band is the Dead Kennedys”

This film is not for the faint of heart or the easily nauseated. The hand held camera work is beautiful but difficult (a possible tagline for this film). It is also not for viewers who hang on things like a 3-part story structure, traditional plot development or other conventions of story telling. We get character growth, change, conflict, but the story unfolds in fits and starts, but always moves forward.

The children — perhaps this point is debatable, but I consider these characters children — in this film reminded me of the train riders I learned about in elementary school, during the Great Depression. Or the hitchhikers of the 60s and 70s. The fables of history class were devoid of the violence and sex that probably accompanied these people’s lives. Over time these stories became inert. That sex and violence is present in this film.

There are multiple excellent scenes (one featured in the trailer of a backyard cowbow BBQ, but also a scene in a suburban home of a Christian soccer mom). Multiple gripping commentaries about children, capitalism, management, family, race, and other patently American ideas.

By the end, when we’re once again in the van with these kids, there’s a certain claustrophobia that sets in. I could almost smell the musty, sweaty, smokey interior of that van. I could feel the grit from this film on my skin.