How American Honey lead Sasha Lane was discovered sounds like the first half of a "Dateline" crime special: A Texas State freshman travels to Florida for spring break. A stranger eyes her on the beach, and begins watching her in secret.…

Fortunately for Lane, that creeper was Oscar winner Andrea Arnold, who'd written a script for a dreamy road movie and was looking for her star (literally: a character named Star). After a few days of observation, Arnold introduced herself and proposed an on-the-spot audition at Lane's hotel.

The next morning, recalls Lane, “we hopped in a car and just went from there.”

"American Honey" follows a roving band of scuzzy runaways, thriving like weeds on the edge of the law. (Their racket: door-to-door magazine sales.) As Star, Sasha Lane is magnetic, sparking a vivid connection with every actor, especially the troupe's rat-tailed leader, played by Shia LaBeouf.

Lane and LaBeouf's red-blooded chemistry is so potent that you're often envious of their energy. Their sex scenes, one in quasi public, are unsettling, flustering, and hot. The key to getting them right, says Lane, is “breathing” and “eye contact.” (The pair were later photographed holding hands offscreen.)

Throwing herself into things headlong is typical of Lane. “I'm big on signs,” she says, making you wonder how your own life might be improved by lying on the beach and paying closer attention to Mercury's retrograde. Until Arnold arrived, did Lane even want to be an actress?

“I always said if someone were to find me, then I'd do it.”

Turns out go with the flow is a solid career plan.