American Honey

Sonia Hadj Said

What’s the difference between a blockbuster movie and an indie film?
A blockbuster will leave you feeling powerful, but an indie film will leave you feeling powerless. An indie film won’t tell you that anything is possible and life is good. Indie films are there to rush you, remind that you might be running out of time, you’re not doing well enough and you might never do. Basically, an indie film shows the life as it is.

As my Hungarian friend has recently returned from her two weeks long trip in LA, she had one statement that still rings in my ears. ‘The American Dream is an illusion.’ She avoided touristic areas and walked and walked and walked, trying to see the real country, the real people and places as she always believed that was where she was meant to be born. The land of possibilities, the land of dreaming. But as we have moved from Hollywood fantasy and started appreciating the realness of life and the fact that American Dream is only for the chosen ones, American Honey might be the first and most important step to uncovering America as it is. Finally.


There are no possible spoilers because there is no conventional ending as we know it. Is that a bad thing when a film feels unresolved and you’re left walking out the cinema wondering what the ending will be? On a contrary. There is no ending to life until it actually ends – a first lesson from American Honey. You don’t get to know whether their dreams will come true, if they will be together, if they will ever manage to change that lifestyle. But you don’t need to. That’s the way life is.

The film is shot with a hand camera – something you would never notice unless having a short training on tv news package or any sort of filming. And as far as they will teach you that it’s best to shoot on a tripod to get that stillness, it’s the last thing you want in there. The camera is moving, shaking, jumping and doing it so perfectly, you could be there. Not that you would want to.


Road films tend to be romanticised because of freedom they portray. American Honey does no such thing. It’s not about finding yourself, following your dream or trying to get somewhere. The whole point to it is that there is no destination. The characters spend their days drinking, smoking, selling magazines, having sex and trying not get into personal stories. As my friend suggested that it would be nice to hear some back stories from others, I thought: what if they had no back stories? What if they just left homes where no one cared about them and went on this journey with nothing better to do? That’s the thing. As Millennials we can’t just accept a reality where this kind of life happens. We are trapped and so often want to break free, but deep inside know that we wouldn’t survive a day and would run back crying to parents.

American Honey is sexy, with sex scenes making you want to jump someone if you have been missing it recently. It’s offensive in language and images of Lombardi’s genitals. It’s musical with indie lovers listening to Rap music, tapping away. It’s scary with Riley Keough’s performance and facial expressions indicating she owns the show and those kids’ lives. It’s unexpected with Shia’s portrayal of unstable and secretive love interest.
It’s full of bumpy roads and so real that you shouldn’t watch it with a hungover – you’re on a extreme ride with no destination ahead.


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