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American Honey (film)

American Honey
American Honey poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Andrea Arnold
Produced by
  • Thomas Benski
  • Lars Knudsen
  • Jay Van Hoy
  • Lucas Ochoa
  • Pouya Shahbazian
  • Alice Weinberg
Written by Andrea Arnold
Starring
Cinematography Robbie Ryan
Edited by Joe Bini
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
  • May 15, 2016 (2016-05-15) (Cannes)
  • September 30, 2016 (2016-09-30) (United States)
  • October 14, 2016 (2016-10-14) (United Kingdom)
Running time
163 minutes[1]
Country
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Language English
Budget $3.5 million[2]
Box office $1.8 million[3]

American Honey is a 2016 British-American drama road film written and directed by the British filmmaker Andrea Arnold, named after the Lady Antebellum song of the same name. The film stars Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, and Riley Keough. The film follows Star (Lane), a teenage girl from a troubled home, who runs away with a traveling sales crew who drive across the American Midwest selling magazine subscriptions door to door. Principal photography began in May 2015 with filming taking place in several states across America; it's Arnold's first film to be set and filmed outside of the United Kingdom.

The film was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize.[4][5][6] The film received positive reviews, with Lane's performance receiving critical praise and accolades along with LaBeouf and Keough. The film was released in the United States on September 30, 2016, by A24 and in the United Kingdom on October 14, 2016 by Focus Features. For the 70th BAFTA Awards, American Honey received a nomination for Best British Film.

Plot

Star (Sasha Lane) is a teenager living in Muskogee, Oklahoma. She takes care of two younger children while being groped by their father (Johnny Pierce II). While trying to hitchhike home she spies a car full of teenagers and makes eye contact with Jake (Shia LaBeouf), one of the boys.

She follows them to a local K-Mart, and returns Jake's phone after it falls out of his pocket. He kisses her on the cheek and tells her to come with him to Kansas, where he will offer her a job. Star declines but Jake nevertheless tells her to meet them in the parking lot of the local Motel 6.

Star changes her mind. Packing her belongings, she takes the children she watches to the club where their mother (Chasity Hunsaker) dances, telling her it is her turn to care for them. Though the mother refuses, Star runs away from the club and sleeps outside the van of the strangers till morning.

Jake is delighted that she came. She is interviewed by Krystal, who runs the entire crew, and who hires her after she establishes that Star is 18, no one will miss her, and that Star promises to work hard.

In the car on the way to Kansas, Star meets the other members of the crew including Pagan (Arielle Holmes) who is obsessed with Star Wars, in particular Darth Vader, and death.

The crew breaks up into groups of two to sell magazines door to door. Since Star is new, she is paired with Jake, the veteran of the group. Star finds it difficult to sell as Jake lies to a potential customer (Laura Kirk) in order to make sales. She also distracts Jake by flirting and eventually kissing him.

Krystal calls Star in, and tells her that Jake has posted his lowest sales ever. She has Jake put tanning lotion on her body as Star watches. Star promises to improve.

The following day, annoyed by Jake, Star vows to outsell him. She is picked up by three strangers in cowboy hats who offer to help her, thinking she is being harassed by Jake. They bring her to their home and offer to buy several magazines if she drinks the worm at the bottom of a bottle of mezcal. Star does, and makes the sale. Jake however, fearing the worst, arrives and threatens the men with a gun before stealing their car. Initially angry at Jake, Star is later touched that he came to find her and the two have sex. When they return to the hotel for the evening, Jake tells her not to mention their relationship, and then gives the money Star earned to Krystal.

For a while things between Jake and Star are tense, and Krystal threatens to drop her on the side of the road if she keeps causing trouble. The crew ends up living temporarily in a rundown house, and Jake and Star renew their relationship. She asks him what his dreams are, and he shows her his private stash of cash and gold, items he's stolen from the houses he visits, which he intends to use to buy a home.

Krystal dumps the girls off where oil workers are about to go to work in the morning. Star climbs in the back of their truck and tries to sell them magazines, but one of the oil workers tells her he'll pay her five hundred dollars to go on a date with him. Star asks for a thousand, and prostitutes herself for the money. After the man drops her off she hears him being attacked. Shortly after, a bloodied Jake asks her if she was hurt by the man and later asks if she slept with him. He throws a fit, smashing the belongings in the house before running off.

The following morning the crew get in the car and there is a new girl there, while Jake is missing. Krystal calls Star to her room and informs her she has let Jake go and that she paid him money for each girl he recruited and that he slept with all of them. Krystal later takes them to a poor area in Rapid City, South Dakota, to sell magazines. Star enters a house and meets several affable children whose mother is on drugs. As Star's own mother died of meth she feels sympathetic towards them, and goes out to buy them groceries. At the pickup that day Jake is in the van and Star is confused as to whether to be happy to see him or not.

That evening the crew light a bonfire and celebrate. Dancing around the fire Star is pulled aside by Jake who privately hands her a turtle. Star takes it to the edge of the water and releases it before following the turtle into the water. She immerses herself fully before rising out of the water.

Cast

  • Sasha Lane as Star
  • Shia LaBeouf as Jake
  • Arielle Holmes as Pagan
  • Riley Keough as Krystal
  • McCaul Lombardi as Corey
  • Crystal B. Ice as Katness
  • Chad McKenzie Cox as Billy
  • Garry Howell as Austin
  • Kenneth Kory Tucker as Sean
  • Raymond Coalson as JJ
  • Isaiah Stone as Valium
  • Dakota Powers as Runt
  • Shawna Rae Moseley as Shunta
  • Christopher David Wright as Riley
  • Verronikah Ezell as QT
  • Will Patton as Backseat Cowboy
  • Bruce Gregory as Cattle Truck Driver
  • Johnny Pierce II as Nathan
  • Laura Kirk as Laura
  • Summer Hunsaker as Kelsey
  • Brody Hunsaker as Rubin
  • Chasity Hunsaker as Misty

Production

Development

Arnold began writing the screenplay in 2013 and it was first announced under the pre-production title Mag Crew at Film4's 2013 Cannes Film Festival party.[7][8] Arnold has said the movie was inspired[9][10] by an investigative piece she read in The New York Times about mag crews.[11] The film was optioned from The Times and Ian Urbina in 2008. Arnold became inspired by lives of American youths in "Magazine Crews" who travel the United States selling magazine subscriptions, an occupation that has caused controversy in the United States.[12][13][14] In researching for the film, Arnold embarked on a road trip from California to Miami, Florida. In late 2013, Arnold was the Filmmaker-in-Residence at the New York Film Festival. During this time, she worked on the second draft of the script and used the opportunity to meet with potential casting directors.[12][15]

In 2014, the film's producers and new title, American Honey, were announced.[16] In March 2015, casting took place in Oklahoma in preparation for a summer shoot.[17]

Casting

Arnold "street cast" by searching beaches, streets, and approaching drunk teenagers.[18] Arnold discovered Sasha Lane while she was on spring break with her friends; Lane decided to audition for the film and won the lead role.[19][20][21][22] The remainder of the cast were found in parking lots, construction sites, streets, and state fairs.[23][24][25]

In April 2015, Shia LaBeouf was cast in an unspecified role.[26] In early June, Arielle Holmes was reported to have joined the cast.[27]

Filming

In May 2015, filming was reported in Muskogee, Okmulgee, and Norman, Oklahoma.[28][29][30] In late May 2015, production was reported in Mission Hills, Kansas and areas of Kansas City, Missouri.[31][32] and the police of Missouri Valley, Iowa reported that the film had recently shot in their city.[33] On 9 June, production was taking place in Omaha, Nebraska and Grand Island, Nebraska.[34] On 24 June, LaBeouf was hospitalized after being injured on set during filming in Williston, North Dakota.[35] Filming wrapped on July 5, 2015.[36][37] The film was shot over 56 days, in several states.[38]

Release

In January 2016, A24 acquired distribution rights to the film.[39] In May 2016, Universal Pictures and Focus Features acquired international distribution rights to the film.[40] The film had its world premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival on May 15, 2016, where it was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or.[4][5] The film also screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8, 2016.[41][42] and Fantastic Fest,[43] and the BFI London Film Festival on October 7, 2016.[44]

It was released in the United States on September 30, 2016.[45] It was then released in the United Kingdom on October 14, 2016.[46][47]

Reception

Critical response

External audio
Filmmaker Andrea Arnold On 'American Honey' And Preserving Mystery In Film, 20:42, September 29, 2016, Fresh Air with Terry Gross[48]

American Honey received mostly positive reviews upon its premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.[49][50][51] The film holds a 79% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 168 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "American Honey offers a refreshingly unconventional take on the coming-of-age drama whose narrative risks add up to a rewarding experience even if they don't all pay off."[52] On review aggregator Metacritic, it holds a 79 out of 100 rating, based on reviews from 40 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[53]

American Honey was also placed on several publications's "Best of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival" and "Best of the 2016 Toronto Film Festival" lists.[54][55][56] Variety placed Sasha Lane's performance in the film at number 3 on their list of the 9 breakout performances of the 2016 Toronto Film Festival.[57] The film won the Cannes Film Festival's Jury Prize, Arnold's third time winning the award,[6] and received a special commendation from the Ecumenical Jury.[58]

Guy Lodge of Variety was extremely positive, writing, "Part dreamy millennial picaresque, part distorted tapestry of Americana and part exquisitely illustrated iTunes musical, “Honey” daringly commits only to the loosest of narratives across its luxurious 162-minute running time. Yet it's constantly, engrossingly active, spinning and sparking and exploding in cycles like a Fourth of July Catherine wheel."[59] Eric Kohn of Indiewire was enthusiastic, writing that American Honey "proves Andrea Arnold is one of the best working filmmakers and finds a breakout star in Sasha Lane," and that "It's the closest thing to a magnum opus in Arnold's blossoming career."[60] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "A road movie without a map that nonetheless arrives at a worthwhile destination," and wrote, "The film works best as a poignant character study, observing Star as she settles into her independence and figures out who she wants to be, framed by a vast physical landscape that stretches socioeconomically from privileged wealth to squalid poverty. There's a wonderful intimacy in the way Arnold examines young women in her films."[61]

Accolades

Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Woman Director Andrea Arnold Nominated [62][63]
Best Woman Screenwriter Andrea Arnold Nominated
Best Breakthrough Performance Sasha Lane Nominated
Bravest Performance Sasha Lane Nominated
Austin Film Critics Association Breakthrough Artist Award Sasha Lane Nominated [64][65]
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Actress Sasha Lane Nominated [66]
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female Sasha Lane Nominated
Outstanding Independent Film American Honey Won
British Academy Film Awards Best British Film Andrea Arnold, Lars Knudsen, Pouya Shahbazian and Jay Van Hoy Nominated [67]
British Independent Film Awards Best British Independent Film American Honey Won [68]
Best Director Andrea Arnold Won
Best Actress Sasha Lane Won
Best Actor Shia LaBeouf Nominated
Best Screenplay Andrea Arnold Nominated
Best Achievement in Craft Robbie Ryan (cinematography) Won
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Andrea Arnold Nominated [69][70]
Jury Prize Andrea Arnold Won [71][72]
Dorian Awards Unsung Film of the Year American Honey Nominated [73]
Empire Awards Best Female Newcomer Sasha Lane Pending [74]
Best Director Andrea Arnold Pending
Evening Standard British Film Awards Best Film American Honey Nominated [75]
Technical Achievement Robbie Ryan (cinematography) Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Best Ensemble The cast of American Honey Won [76]
Gotham Awards Breakthrough Actor Sasha Lane Nominated [77]
Independent Spirit Awards Best Feature American Honey Nominated [78]
Best Director Andrea Arnold Nominated
Best Female Lead Sasha Lane Nominated
Best Supporting Female Riley Keough Nominated
Best Supporting Male Shia LaBeouf Nominated
Best Cinematography Robbie Ryan Nominated
London Film Critics Circle Film of the Year American Honey Nominated [79]
British / Irish Film of the Year American Honey Nominated
Supporting Actor of the Year Shia LaBeouf Nominated
Supporting Actress of the Year Riley Keough Nominated
Technical Achievement Robby Ryan (cinematography) Nominated
Los Cabos International Film Festival Premio Cinemex Andrea Arnold Won [80]
Stockholm International Film Festival FIPRESCI Award Andrea Arnold Won [81]
Women Film Critics Circle Best Young Actress Sasha Lane Nominated [82]
Adrienne Shelly Award American Honey Won

References

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External links