Harmony Korine’s (Gummo, Julien Donkey Boy, Trash Humpers) ability to polarize audiences shows no signs of abating if Spring Breakers is anything to go by. It’s a bright, sickly colored, hedonistic, perverted and downright weird trip. Korine wants the audience to react and he doesn’t seem to care if it’s a good reaction or a bad reaction.
Spring Breakers is the story of four college girls (Candy, Brit, Cotty, and Faith) who are robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation. After a wild party gets out of hand, the four are arrested then bailed out by a drug and arms dealer called Alien, who feels instantly connected to all the girls. This is the general outline of the story, but there is plenty more going on.
The acting is a strong point in Spring Breakers. The main leads (Rachael Korine, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez) are all very good in their roles, really letting go of themselves and pushing out of their comfort zone. Gomez in particular shows off some acting chops that I didn’t think she had. Then we come to James Franco as Alien. Probably one of Franco’s best roles and one of the more bizarre characters seen for sometime. Franco inhabits his character, providing us with a man who is intense, smart but stupid and caring (in his own way) yet very creepy – his scene with Gomez is about as uncomfortable as anything you’d see on-screen and despite nothing really happening, the scene ends and it has an icky feel to it. Franco also hams it up in the role with his grillz, corn rows, not too mention the singing of a Britney Spears song on a piano by the pool, whilst the girls dance around with guns, it is one of the most surreal and trippy moments in recent memory.
Korine’s camera is clear and focused in this film, the colours are bright and vibrant, it really adds to the feel of the film, providing a juxtaposition between the dark subject matter and the sweet, fluorescent colours. Korine lingers on the girls, sometimes for an uncomfortably long time, making the audience the voyeurs at this party. This is probably Korine’s best directed film to date, he seems to be getting more technically proficient with each film.
Spring Breakers seems to be all about a generation that doesn’t want to wait, that wants everything and everything that happens is a means to an end. Money is a big theme of the film. Even early on, one of the girls states – “Money makes my t*ts bigger” – a throw away line? Or is it part of the social commentary that Korine was trying to inject throughout the film? Franco’s gangsta Alien screams “Look at my sh*t” as the camera pans around his room, full of guns, drugs and money, he says he is living his dream – the American dream. Is this just gangsta talk or is Korine trying to say something about the American dream? Has it progressed to be just purely chasing money and possessions? We get to see plenty of flesh in Spring Breakers (both male and female), but as mentioned before, the camera does linger on the girls, making them objects. In fact, the girls spend the majority of the film in bikinis. Could this be another piece of commentary considering the party scenes are just a hyper stylized version of Jersey Shore or Geordie Shore or it could just be exploitation for the sake of it? There is a lot of sexuality in the film but without much actual sex and violence but without any real impact. Korine has plenty to say but whether or not is gets lost in the wash of the film is entirely up to how you perceive the previous events. You will either totally love, absolutely hate or just be plain confused by Spring Breakers and maybe that is the point. What you take out of Spring Breakers is up to you.