This film starts deceptively slowly. Sasha Lane’s Star is a young woman with 2 young kids hunting through rubbish for free food seems to set the story for a tale of modern poverty, a single mum fallen through the welfare net. But she spots a van load of rowdy young men, and is invited by Shia la Boef’s Jake to join them on the road selling magazines. She seems a neglectful mum for even considering it, then it turns out they aren’t hers so she dumps them on her mum and hits the road.
Her fellow travellers are a motley crew, drinking and getting stoned, but welcoming and good natured. They sing, they share stories, they party while they travel through the Mid West. She is warned by boss Riley Keogh’s diva Krystal that if she fails to make money they will leave her by the side of the road. This is no easy life. Jake tries to train Star on how to read customers, that what they do is a game, but Star is too honest, she says what she thinks so struggles with the work. Jake and Star are drawn together, yet he is Krystal’s so their relationship is unclear. Star is aware of the dangers.
Andrea Arnold’s story should be a depressing tale of losers, but they are survivors, the ultimate participants in the American Dream. This is a great road and buddy movie. The kids are so different, yet they all get on well. They are the ultimate travellers, negotiating their way in the world. It’s an intriguing film, and was nominated for Best British Film at the Baftas. It deserved to win. Though a warning: it is 163 minutes long, but I didn’t notice till near the end.