Kicking off Cannes Month with last year’s jury prize-winning tale of misfit youth, shot in the People’s Aspect Ratio of 4:3. After finding love in a hopeless place (wal-mart), Sasha Lane dumps two kids onto a woman line-dancing to Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road” (“they ARE yours”), sneaks away from her boyfriend (husband? stepdad?) and joins hottie Jake (Shia LaBeouf, last seen in Nymphomaniac) on the road, selling magazines for group leader Krystal (one-note villainous Riley Keough, of Fury Road).
The characters are all useless, but as far as capturing a certain vibe/mood and creating visual energy with the camerawork, it’s a pretty swell movie, keeping me going for all three (!) hours despite some groanworthy choices (“Dream Baby Dream” when they talk about their dreams – later the new girl in Sasha’s place is named Drema).
There are so many extraordinary moments, beautiful shots and intoxicating rushes of pure teenage adrenalin, that it’s all the more frustrating when … American Honey stops short of being more than a fitfully exciting, occasionally trying and undoubtedly overlong experiment.
It works best as a rowdy ensemble piece — sort of a co-ed, mobile, present-day version of Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some, examining the frayed bonds created among newly formed adults with few responsibilities and a dynamic torn between loyalty and rivalry.