5 Films You Need to See by the director of 'American Honey'
It’s hard to talk about female directors without Andrea Arnold instantly coming to mind. The British filmmaker just gets it. And by “it,” we mean the female gaze. In an industry that’s still largely run by the boys, Arnold’s work breaks through the clutter; it’s a breath of god damn fresh air. Her films are reality slapping you in the face—stylistically beautiful portrayals of chaos, and that includes her most recent one, American Honey. Each a social critique, shedding light on issues that often fail to make it on mainstream Hollywood’s agenda.
To watch any one of Arnold’s films is to be plucked from your corner of the universe and placed in a very relatable alternate reality, complete with staunchly realistic portrayals of young women. Below are five of our favorite Arnold-directed films that you should queue up ASAP.
1. Milk (1998)
Arnold’s very first short film, Milk, follows a day in the life of a woman who has just miscarried her first child. In a mere ten minutes, Arnold gives a strong and sobering female voice to a heavy subject. In an unlikely and unfiltered series of events, we watch as emotional pandemonium ensues; the final scene will leave you speechless, we promise.
2. Dog (2001)
Arnold portrays an impoverished teen girl with a rough home life in another of her early short films, Dog. This is her first of many representations of a young woman who’s dealt a shitty hand right from the get-go. We follow the teen and her skeevy boyfriend with bated breath as a disturbing situation turns gruesome. We won’t spoil it for you, but this one’s not for the faint of heart.
3. Wasp (2003)
Wasp is an uncensored depiction of a single mother who desperately wants to have a good time. She yearns for something greater but she’s trapped in her own stifling reality. Barefoot and dirt poor with four children in tow, we watch her take a stab at going on a “date” with an old acquaintance. What’s a girl gotta do to have a little fun around here?
4. Fish Tank (2009)
Arnold isn’t one for sugarcoating; Fish Tank is social realism at its finest. In it, 15-year-old Mia is forced to navigate her messy home life due in no small part to her neglectful mom. Arnold poetically contrasts the teen’s unwavering dream of being a dancer with her otherwise depressing day-to-day struggle. Fiercely independent and eager to a fault, Mia lets her guard down around her mother’s steamy new boyfriend—and then, well, shit hits the fan.
5. American Honey (2016)
American Honey is a rough-around-the-edges tale of self-discovery with a heavy dose of Americana. Picture a rat pack group of nomadic teens piled in a van with cheap vodka, weed, and E-40 at full volume—it’s modern day youth culture in its most honest form. Apparently, Arnold cast mostly non-actors for the film, which gives it a raw, effortless, and dreamy vibe. Then throw in an adventure-hungry female lead who’s fascinated by the crew’s ringleader and you’ve got yourself a coming-of-age drama that is seriously relatable.
Images via Cinema Axis and Fandango.
Stay tuned to Milk for more fierce female filmmakers.