Spring Breakers (2013)

Spring BreakersAfter months spent scrimping and saving, best friends Faith (Selena Gomez), Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Venessa Hudgens) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) pool their resources only to discover that they are still hundreds of dollars short of being able to attend spring break in Florida with their peers. While Faith prays for the necessary funds, her cohorts decide to rob a local fast food joint, escaping with enough to embark on their escapades. When a party they are attending is raided and the four of them arrested, however, their vacation takes a dark turn under the influence of gangster-rapper Alien (James Franco).

Having courted controversy on the indie circuit with films such as Kids, which he wrote, and Gummo, which marked his directorial debut, Harmony Korine this week unleashed Spring Breakers on his largest audience yet, due to its considerable media coverage and a wide theatrical release. Thanks to the stunt casting of Disney princesses Venessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez, Spring Breakers is well on its way to becoming the highest-grossing film of Korine’s career.

Ostensibly a cutting critque of the American dream, the film follows its quartet to Florida where their initially innocent and innocuous experimentations are soon warped beyond recognition into something far less savoury. Korine is far from subtle when it comes to subtext, however, and this undertone erupts repeatedly through the mouths of his four spring breakers, and their metal-mouthed mentor.  Dialogue is far from the film’s strongest suit, as disembodied diatribes are recycled throughout at the expense of actual conversation.

Spring Breakers is at its best when silent, or on the two spectacularly surreal occasions in which Britney Spears is left to do the talking (well, singing). The bond between the friends is best exemplified in the scenes where they are left to their own devices, apart from what passes for the film’s plot. As they dance around in their dorm and frolic around Florida, you can’t help but engage with the youth and energy of four girls having a good time. The standout sequence, this time to Spears’ Everytime, occurs much later in the film, as the remaining revellers cavort in front of Franco’s Alien, no longer figures of fun but corrupted, disguised by masks and armed with guns.

For Korine is a master of juxtaposition, not only casting actors against type but  seeking out discord wherever he might find it. Almost every scene in the movie is punctuated by the sound of a gun cocking, generating a sense of unease and foreboding from the very get-go — even as good girl Gomez joins hands in prayer and topless teens strut their stuff on the beach. Despite the gratuity and obscenity of much of the film’s imagery, the cinematography is almost always brimming with beauty, the soundtrack an odd mix of Ellie Golding and the girls’ early phone calls home, as each takes it in turn to remark upon their own spiritual and intellectual awakening.

Gomez and Hudgens are great in the two most noteworthy female roles, the former struggling with Catholic guilt while the latter full-on embraces the hedonistic lifestyle as advertised by Alien. Ashley Benson makes quite an impression too, though this is less to do with her role in the movie and more a consequence of her own credibility and charisma. This is undoubtedly Franco’s movie, however, the actor disguised beneath dreadlocks and a transformative grill in a flight of fancy worthy of Oz himself. While he talks as much rubbish as the rest of the cast, his physicality and obvious enjoyment are enough to seer the character forever onto your memory.

As clever and controversial as Spring Breakers thinks itself to be, however, Korine’s film is all bark and very little bite. Effervescent, bright and surprisingly sweet, it never fully commits to its supposed cause — forever leery instead of lecherous — instead fizzling out into a surprising rather than shocking finale that robs the film of any real impact. After all that cocking, Korine seems afraid to pull the trigger. Still, as I’m sure is the case with the holiday itself, it was fun while it lasted.

4-Stars

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Spring Breakers (2013)

  1. Pingback: April 2013 – You’re all going to die tonight | popcornaddict

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