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Review: Road trip tale ‘American Honey’ runs on fumes

At nearly three hours, ‘American Honey’ is longer than some actual road trips

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

In “American Honey,” Shia LaBeouf gives the performance of his career as a rat-tailed drifter scuzzball whose magnetic charm can melt worlds. LaBeouf marries his mystic public persona with his character’s wayward spirit, and he’s intoxicatingly charismatic in a bad boy turn that’s among the year’s best.

“American Honey” rides on LaBeouf’s dazzling work until it runs out of gas. At nearly three hours, “American Honey” is the most indulgent movie of the year, and the one in most need of a serious trim. It makes its point early on and then keeps repeating it until the honey turns sour.

Its repetition is at least part of the point. This road-trip tale from director Andrea Arnold (“Fish Tank”) focuses on a group of delinquent youths who go door-to-door selling magazine subscriptions that may or may not ever arrive. They play up their hard-luck tales, telling whatever lie they need to in order to close the deal, then pack up and do the same thing in the next town over.

There’s a camaraderie in this surrogate family, and it’s visible as they listen to the same songs, tell the same jokes, and repeat the same day over and over. To watch “American Honey” is to feel like you’re on the road with them, but eventually you just want to jump out of the van and run back home.

Newcomer Sasha Lane is Star, who leads the cast of mostly non-actors as the newbie in the gang, which recalls Larry Clark’s “Kids.” Star finds herself in many dangerous situations that she somehow wiggles out of. But the point is dulled as “American Honey” keeps driving around in circles.


Twitter: @grahamorama

‘American Honey’


Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, language throughout, drug/alcohol abuse-all involving teens

Running time: 163 minutes