I knew very little about this new film by writer-director, Anne Hamilton, when I watched it.
I actually knew only three things about American Fable.
One - Hamilton had once been an intern of Oscar-nominated director, Terrence Malick, and her first feature - especially the expansive, slow landscapes within it - showed his influence.
Two - It premiered at this year's SXSW film festival.
Three - It consequently led to Hamilton's signing at WME.
I have to confess the first thing meant little to me since I haven't seen any of Malick's films. However, after having watched this thought-provoking thriller set deep in the American farmlands during the early 1980s, I think it's time I watch Badlands.
But I digress...
Instead, I'd like to focus on how I genuinely loved American Fable and why you will too.
1. The story is unique.
It's about an eleven-year-old, sheltered farm girl, Gitty, who befriends the wealthy, city businessman known for buying the surrounding failing family farms and kidnapped by Gitty's desperate father for the ransom money to save his own farm from purchase.
Gitty must ultimately choose between saving this stranger's life or protecting her family from the dark consequences of the kidnapping, which include a prison sentence and surely, losing the beloved family farm.
Not only are the stakes sufficiently high, which made for great drama, it felt fresh because it was told through Gitty's eyes.
I particularly loved how Gitty didn't buy into the anger and the "them versus us" mentality like her father and older brother and that in the end, she was the voice of reason.
2. I also particularly loved the pace of the story.
Unlike the quick tempo of today's films that seem to be increasingly geared towards increasingly shorter attention spans, American Fable unfolded like poetry, taking its time, savoring each moment.
This gave me time to get acclimated to this different land far away from the city - a world that I personally know little about. It allowed me to ultimately escape into the lives of farmers.
Yet, the story moved along. Each scene built upon the next in both intensity and conflict. Keeping my interest the entire time.
But if it were told any quicker than it was, it would have felt wrong. Totally out of place for this story's country backdrop and slower-moving era.
3. The music set the tone perfectly.
I loved how the music by Gingger Shankar was particularly haunting and connected the story elements - beautifully filmed, vivid landscapes and a thought-provoking thriller - perfectly from the first scene until the last.
I couldn't help but notice how the music kept me at the edge of my seat, guessing where this story was going to take me and finding out it was somewhere that I never imagined.
Ultimately, I can't think of any other word than "perfect" to describe the music within this film so I'm going to just leave it at that.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed watching American Fable.
Besides my three reasons stated above, it's always exciting to see a female-driven story as good as this.
But it's even more exciting when it's created and helmed by a female artist. With that being said, I eagerly look forward to Hamilton's next film -- and you should too.