Saturday, March 23

Spring Breakers Review

Spring Breakers
Dir: Harmony Korine
Starring: James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens,
Amber Benson, and Selena Gomez

A sea of scantily clad bodies will consume the poolside, beaches, and boathouses during the weeklong tradition of spring break. Glamorized and stylized by MTV since the mid 80’s, spring break has become somewhat of a “rite of passage” for youth in America; though experience will dictate that MTV’s fantasy far outshined the reality of the event. Still, realism doesn’t seem to keep director Harmony Korine content as he adorns the lurid fantasy in Spring Breakers with hyperactive style and sinister undertones.

The film begins with an ominous R-rated spring break montage accompanied with nudity, innuendo, and a seething Skrillex/Cliff Martinez soundtrack. Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine), and Brit (Ashley Benson) want to experience spring break in Florida but are lacking money to make the trip.  Faith (Selena Gomez), a religious-minded friend of the girls, is asked to enjoy in the fun but the girls are still short on funds even with her contribution. This leads the girls to the plan of robbing a diner, which succeeds in ludicrous fashion, and their journey to spring break begins. After some indulgence and hedonism, the girls are arrested and bailed out by local drug dealer/rapper Alien (James Franco).  Alien, a maniacal charmer, is captivated by the wayward girls in the same way they are with him, minus Faith who senses Alien’s darker interest. The girls, supported by the unbridled purpose of Alien, are consumed by the lifestyle and motto “spring break forever”.

Korine applies an interesting perspective throughout the film, offering insights into American culture, youth, media manipulation, and individual authenticity. These musings are all intertwined within a surreal neon splashed dream, at times self-manipulating each other. It’s an interesting approach that is both frustratingly unsatisfying and insightfully fascinating. Korine plays numerous scenes on repeat, including recurrent dialog; it plays out both annoying and compelling within different scenes. Korine possesses an observant eye, examining the consuming nature of our society and the search for self-identity within scenes of booze drenched debauchery. Though the majority of the narrative is a manic maze of ideas proposed but never fully realized; in one instance the film will look importantly at the role of female empowerment only to undercut the message with a lurid example of blatant misogyny. Whether this aspect is a focused rendering of Korine’s unique form is debatable, it unfortunately hinders many of the narrative achievements.

James Franco, in cornrows and glistening grillz, is effective in the lead role. His mannerisms, both subtle and flamboyant, offer an amusing trait for his eclectic Alien. The performance of the girls combined is natural within their group but when left to shine individually their presentation becomes strained and contrived. 

The result of Spring Breakers, in whatever light you may view it from, will be different from every position. From one angle you might see a socially charged examination while from another viewpoint you might see an overindulgent confusion of themes. While there is a cautionary perspective and other ideas at play throughout, Harmony Korine is justified in keeping the answers to himself and the questions with the viewer.

Monte’s Rating
2.75 out of 5.00 

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