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American Honey 4.0 stars

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Synopsis

…needs lots of American worker bees to make it, a roving swarm that labors for the sake of preserving the hive and comforting the queen, and thinks of nothing else. (If that analogy seems a bit much, just take note of the preponderance of bugs through this captivating film’s generous but well-considered runtime.) In this case, that means a van full of Lost Boys and Girls, roaming the heartland and selling magazines door to door under the stern care of their ladyboss Crystal. Except, of course, the grime of commerce has a way of getting under your fingernails (and your clothes, and your skin…), and super-seller Jake (a revelatory Shia LaBeouf) quickly makes it clear to our runaway heroine Star (a mesmerizing Sasha Lane) that what you’re selling isn’t magazines, it’s you. Writer-director Andrea Arnold artfully sets love against money and manages one of the best endings in recent memory. She does a lot of other things right as well, using the kids' use of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll (well, hip-hop) to illustrate both the nightmare and promise of being young and alarmingly free in America.

Matthew Lickona

Length: 2 hours, 38 minutes

Rated: R

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