American Honey - review
Just finished this film - had to watch it over two days since it was rather long and I didn't quite realize when I started it.
I don't often watch this kind of film - I prefer to be entertained and uplifted. That doesn't mean I cannot appreciate a good bleak window into a subculture though. But I find it also to be a bit exploitative in a way.
What I did like about this film was the realism. The script was good; all the characters in the entire film were stupid and dumb. I felt like it was a part of why they became dispossessed and rootless to begin with. The script did a beautiful job actually having them speak, well, stupidly. A lot of movies will have this clever smart screenwriter who forgets that his characters are supposed to be dumb and will write the wrong words in their mouths. This writer, Andrea Arnold, doesn't make this mistake. It's good and believable. The writer is also the director and she knew exactly the kind of level of intelligence the actors needed to get across too. No one brilliant - or even reasonably smart, ends up like these kids.
What I did like was how without words at all, never words, she shows how kind Star (the protagonist) is. Over and over and over her kindness bleeds all over the screen. This girl, despite her circumstances, is a gentle soul with goodness in her. It's the one spark of redemption in a very sad and bleak existence. Poverty sucks.
Everytime I see poverty portrayed on screen though, it's like theater. Similar to the Showtime series Shameless, I feel like it's just used to shock the beiges. Oooh, look at the dirty poor people and how they live. It's dehumanizing - *even* showing how kind and sweet Star is.
Instead of giving us a chance to feel real empathy for these people, the film instead is just a window for us to peer into their world, like a voyeur. Instead of our empathy being tagged, we're just shocked and our pity is being delved instead. This is a typical construct, but I'd like to see someone take a chance and require a little bit more from the moviegoer.
Maybe people just aren't ready for that yet.