Director: Harmony Korine // Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, James Franco.
Review: The motive behind one’s participation in a film like Spring Breakers is admirably clear. Those who brave Harmony Korine’s neon-soaked oddity are invited to watch in awe as Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens dismantle their squeaky-clean public personas, a tried-and-tested career move that heralds a rebirth-of-sorts for the Disney starlets, reinforcing their relevancy and signalling a more mature approach to their image and output. It is no coincidence that Hudgens’ raucous new single “$$$ex” dropped in the wake of the film’s US premiere, or that Korine has cited the rise and fall of pop icon Britney Spears as a major influence on the films emotional trajectory in several promotional interviews. It is these assured correlations between the ambitions of both cast and director that elevates Spring Breakers from the depths of depraved exploitation that so many critics have been so eager to bury it in. For better or for worse, this is a film that wears it opportunism on its sleeve.
In addition to Hudgens and Gomez, Korine’s quartet is rounded off by Brit (Benson) and Cotty (Korine’s wife Rachel), who, along with Hudgens’ Candy, we first encounter through hazy visuals and whispered, disparate conversations. It is only Gomez’s Faith that exhibits any form of regret throughout the film’s duration, a trait foreshadowed by early scenes of her at a Christian prayer circle. Even her morals, however, fall happily to the wayside just long enough to allow for a bout of armed robbery – the resulting booty ensuring the foursome’s Spring Break to be a chaotic orgy of sex, drugs and alcohol, all set to a soundtrack of swirling dubstep. The fun is brought to a temporary halt, however, when the girls’ crimes begin to catch up with them. Unfortunately, a bailout by cornrowed miscreant Alien (James Franco) seems only to provide them with further complications.
Korine’s style is raw and disjointed. Sequences are often stitched together via distant snatches of dialogue, layered over montages that perennially boast an intoxicating blend of colours and textures. It’s brash and confrontational, but never less than absorbing.
“I’m so tired of seeing the same things every single day”, laments one Spring Breaker prior to setting their plan into motion. If you share a similar sentiment, what Korine has crafted is a stylish head-trip and a surefire soon-to-be cult classic with a voice of its own, equipped with capable performances and a keen grasp on the current hedonistic zeitgeist of modern youth.