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Newcomer is a true Star; american honey (15) HHHH H.

Byline: film reviews With Damon Smith

KIDS just wanna have fun but the pursuit of reckless abandon comes at a price - virginity, childhood innocence, morality - in Andrea Arnold's mesmerising, naturalistic portrait of disenfranchised youth.

Semi-improvised, American Honey is a bravura study of loneliness, abandonment and sexual awakening, illuminated by director of photography Robbie Ryan's documentary-style camerawork that remains uncomfortably close to characters as their emotional states unravel.

This voyeuristic intimacy heightens in the explicit, though dramatically necessary, sex scenes, which are awkwardly fuelled by adrenaline.

Once again, director Arnold has unearthed a dazzling raw talent in lead actress Sasha Lane, who was spotted sunbathing on a beach and was cast without previous experience in front of the camera.

This gamble pays off handsomely - Lane burns brightly in every scene, bristling with defiance and vulnerability as her free-spirited character barrels towards the cusp of womanhood at frightening speed.

Eighteen-year-old Star (Lane) endures the groping hands of her stepfather, but encounters a group of fun-loving teenagers led by Jake (Shia LaBeouf), who claims to be the manager of a door-to-door magazine subscription business.

Determined to escape the degradation of home, Star hits the road with Jake and the other kids, where they encounter the business' iron-fisted boss, Krystal (Riley Keough).

American Honey is a technical tour de force that also resonates on a deep emotional level. We feel every sucker punch to Star's destiny and Arnold underscores these pivotal moments with pop and rock hits by the likes of Calvin Harris and Rihanna, Bruce Springsteen and Lady Antebellum.

Newcomer Lane delivers a performance of unvarnished, painful honesty that holds our attention, even during the few moments when Star seems to be heading for disaster and we silently consider averting our gaze.


Sasha Lane, above, gives an amazing performance, supported by Shia LaBeouf as Jake and Riley Keough as Krystal, right

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 14, 2016
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