“Spring break….SPRING BREAK!!!” As shouted by four insane, scantily clad women who carry guns and reject wearing anything but a bikini and fluro balaclavas. They never want spring break, that carnival of debauchery and immoral judgement to end. If three former tween idols and director, Harmony Korine’s wife running around causing havoc isn’t enough for a good film, is James Franco wearing grillz and corn rows the trick? Find out after the jump.
Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Faith (Selena Gomez) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) are bored beyond belief with their mundane lives in nothingsville America. School and family just aren’t cutting it. What they want is to go on spring break, where anything goes…literally. So, what do they do to raise the money for such a trip of endless booze and drugs? Become robbers, of course. They obtain the cash and suddenly they’re on their way to spring break, where their perception of the world has transcended to a care-free existence of luxury and excess.
Their fantasy comes to a temporary end when they have a brief run in with the law yet are instantly saved by Alien (James Franco), a peculiar gangster who instantly befriends them and helps continue their reign of debauchery. Alien wants to be a rapper but makes his fortune from drug deals and many other forms of crime. Theyre transfixed by his lifestyle and almost overnight, they return to a life of crime thus making spring break, the epitome of excess a permanent thing. Can spring break really last forever? What threat will bring it all crashing down? Will they even make it out alive?
Are you familiar with Harmony Korine’s work? If so, you’ll be aware of his fascination for the ugly. Korine is an observer; and although I’m not a fan of his, many are. So when he finally decides to incorporate a somewhat narrative and some characters, it works. But is it due to his genius? His reliance on a paper-thin narrative and crotch shots are certainly not commendable. He makes many right decisions, yet falls back on indulgences. Is it in the name of being rebellious and insane? As much as I think the female protagonists in the film are strong, Korine selfishly focuses on female nudity more than anything else. Yet despite this it still doesn’t surrender to fantasy, rather it’s a deconstruction.
Spring Breakers, much like everything else Korine’s done, is so unapologetic in its portrayal of gratuity and amoral individuals. You may like these girls as you’re watching the film, but they are scum, they rob and hurt innocent people. No matter what could be said about the oppression of the rich.
The performances, especially from Franco are what well and truly raise the material. If you end up liking these people, it’s because of the effort made by the actors, especially Franco. It’s a powerhouse performance and you won’t want to look away, even if despite it all, his character is a complete and utter loser. Yet that’s the whole point, he represents what spring break truly is, loud, unpleasant, and although maybe fun at a point, is merely a temporary novelty, it all comes down to when the girls can finally see this.
I loved the film, why? Because still being a distant member of the generation gracing us at this very moment, Spring Breakers encapsulates what this generation is; those who are entering adulthood but refuse to acknowledge it. They want the excess; they’re the ones at the house party at 6am, questioning why no one else is still partying. They, simply, are the ones who are aware of each generations’ boundaries and with that knowledge hope to eliminate any boundary imaginable, even if it means succumbing to degradation. Yet when a male director captures this, how are we to respond? Do we commend him on capturing a male fantasy-driven existence that this generation is carrying out; or do we simply condemn him for being a pervert for emphasizing female nudity and degradation above anything else?
I can’t give Korine too much credit. This isn’t a documentary, but a film with planned, pre-conceived notions. An agenda is here, and the gratuity on screen, although accurately portraying a generation filled with dullards, also adheres to a male fantasy of spring break, the one girls gone wild chooses to embrace. People will be repulsed, and those not aware of the lows 20 year-olds are willing to stoop to will be horrified by Spring Breakers. They will want to leave early and if not, they will feel old and will be assured that a soul exists within them. Korine captures it all and without hesitation, but it’s due to his obsession with the downfall of the perception of the respectable female figure that in some ways destroys whatever clever intentions he may have had. However, for all that takes place, one cannot deny his awareness of the intelligence in his portrayal of the five leads, Franco’s character especially included.
The use of relevant song choices such as a track by skillex really brings home the awareness the film has of this generation’s taste. The two opening scenes that introduce Spring Breaker’s story emphasise the perceptions that accompany the [extreme] 18 year-olds of our world. As it invites you to have fun, it also shows the horror and morose nature of an endless party filled existence. Can I contribute my love of Spring Breakers to Korine’s writing and direction? Not entirely. This review is based on my perception rather than his possible intentions. The gratuity is justified, yet his biased insistence on female degradation is not. If you’re horrified or disgusted by this film, it’s ok, it just confirms you have a soul.
By Chris Elena
Director: Harmony Korine
Writer(s): Harmony Korine
Starring: James Franco Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez
Runtime: 94 minutes
Release Date(s): Australia: May 9, 2013; USA: 22 March, 2013