Zazie has been a huge fan of her work since Arnold’s amazing first feature length, Red Road, a gloomy and intense story set in Glasgow. After the exploit of Fish Tank (with a still-not-so-famous Michael Fassbender), and a modern transposition of British classic Wuthering Heights (my least favourite of her movies, I have to confess), Arnold has just set the Croisette on fire with her magnificent latest work: American Honey.
|Andrea Arnold on the Red Carpet at the last Cannes Film Festival|
A big van full of boys and girls (having more or less Star’s age) arrives in the parking lot: they look like a gang, even if not a bad one, and they seem to have a leader, a young man called Jake. After a short conversation with Star, he suggests the girl to join the group and work with them: they sell magazines door to door travelling through the whole Midwest.
Star, who’s got nothing in life and a family better to forget, decides to embark in this journey. She will meet all sorts of people, she will see many (awful) places, she will get to know the other guys and girls, she will have to deal with Krystal, their pitiless and scary boss, and she will fall in love with Jake. Basically, she will grow old.
What a wonderful thing when a movie is able to transport you into a parallel world where the only things that count are the images you’re watching on the screen. What a powerful force when a movie tells you something that couldn’t be more far away from your day-by-day life and yet it is able to shake you completely and to bewitch you. It is the sensation that I personally love most in life and in movies and, even if road movies are not my cup of tea (I didn’t even like reading On the Road when I was young), American Honey has been like a giant wave - the film is almost 3 hours long - that overwhelmed me at 11 am on a rainy Sunday morning.
Much more than a sociological essay on American youth, this film lets you perfectly understand what it means to be 20something nowadays in the US with no family, no education and no money. The group of youngster Star is living with is a phenomenal group of people: from the shy girl obsessed with Darth Vader to the fat girl singing all the Rihanna songs, these boys and girls cling to your heart from the very beginning and don’t let you go.
The three characters who invade the screen, though, are the one of Krystal, the chilly, heartless and dollars driven manager of this weird business (amazingly played by Riley Keough, Elvis Presley’s grandchild), the one of “super salesman” Jake, a dangerous mix of a child and a cheeky bastard (the best role that controversial actor Shia LaBeouf has ever had) and, of course, the one of Star, The Real Star of this movie, a force of nature, a wild, smart, beautiful, fearless, rebellious girl who goes through life at full speed and without any filter. Newcomer Sasha Lane is simply astonishing in a role that could easily be the one of a life-time.
|Star (Sasha Lane) at the Cannes Film Festival|
Music is a fundamental part of the movie: all these girls and boys live through the music they’re listening to (even the movie title is a song title). If you didn’t see the Red Carpet of the cast at the Cannes Film Festival I strongly recommend you to watch it: they didn’t walk, they danced the whole time on one of the songs movie: Choices (Yup) by E-40. And the one who got really wild is Robbie Ryan, the cinematographer of all Arnold's movies but also the one of many Ken Loach movies:
I didn’t see all the movies of the competition but I believe American Honey could have easily been a Palme D’Or.
For the second time in cinema history, we could have had a woman winning this award.
I think it is about time, because more and more movies made by women are simply incredible.
And this is one of those.
So, please, when this movie will be out, go and see it: it could make a difference.
The one women are still struggling to achieve.