Spring Breakers will be some people’s favorite film of the year. It will sneak onto a few top ten lists, and no doubt spin a few Tumblr’s into a gif-making, line quoting spin. Because for better or worse depending on your own constitution, this is a work of originality. It is exactly what it wants to be. The problem for me was what it wanted to be was a rap video with delusions of grandeur. A film that conceals its exploitation movie core with a layer of irony and faux moral concern that strikes the loudest possible false note, thinking that enough cod-philosophical ruminations of loss of innocence in voice-over whilst we see slow-montages of hot chicks in bikinis making out will somehow add up to poetic social commentary. No. Everything this movie is trying to tell you, every point it makes is lazy, poorly communicated, hypocritical bollocks. Make no mistake.
And yet I still sort of liked the movie. No, not because of hot girls in bikinis, although I realize given my first paragraph that’s the logical conclusion for any reader to draw and I suppose the cynical amongst you could doubt any point I throw at you in this review and assume that its all just a cover for a larger perving agenda. I promise you its not (how can you trust that) so yeah. The reason I liked this movie is because if you can tune out the whimsical sixth form ramblings, its pretty clear that Harmony Korine is a fantastic visual director. The film has a tremendous, pulsing beat music video rhythm to it that in the place of story becomes sort of compelling and in its best moments, entirely arresting. It gets a tedious in places, particularly nearer the end where the movie appears to get exhausted and run out of ideas and thus has a serious case of diminishing returns on the visceral montages. That said Korine puts together a couple of fantastic sequences, the most impressive being a robbery filmed in slow-motion (like everything in this movie) through the window of the getaway car as it drives around the building. I don’t think it has the highest hit rate, but those kind of exceptional moments to exist in this movie, amongst the tangents and the clutter.
As for the performances, well when 3 of your 4 lead actresses are famous for being in Disney channel fluff (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson) and the other is your wife (Rachel Korine), you’re not exactly expecting Meryl Streep, or even Katherine Heigl level acting, but for the most part they equip themselves well and do the job. The job being to get ogled by Korine’s camera and occasionally speak lines. I thought Hudgens and Benson probably equipped themselves the best, and I was pleasantly surprised that Selena Gomez wasn’t completely embarrassing. As soon as James Franco arrives, the movie gives itself over to him, which was probably the right idea. Franco creates a fairly ludicrous, cartoon ‘gangsta’, He’s funny more than he is legitimately menacing, but his hamming is pretty entertaining and fits nicely with Korine’s in your face style. I think there could have maybe been a more interesting version of the character for the movie, maybe a darker one, that could have lead the film somewhere more interesting, but I did enjoy what Franco was doing for the most part, so I can’t get too mad.
A movie like Spring Breakers isn’t really for me. Edited into a purposefully dreamlike rave state, it’s a movie that aspires to be a drugs and boobs filled poem, the story is less important than the vibe, the characters less than the style. For what it’s trying to be visually I think it succeeds, Korine has enough verve and a unique enough imprint that there are moments strong enough that you can get lost in its trance, but ultimately – and I have the same problem with Sofia Coppola movies, who is clearly is a huge influence on Korine even if he is the skrillex to her Norah Jones in terms of content, they both have the same misplaced high-mindedness- is that after a while you adjust to the style and the shallowness of the the thing begins to seep through the cracks, and the idea that all the pomp and circmustance and pretension is all just a cover for ultimately not knowing how to craft a great story. Then again maybe all Korine wanted to do with Spring Breakers was cause some outrage and experiment in style. That’s fine, at that it would have arguably succeeded. But I strongly don’t think so, I genuinely think this is supposed to be a have your cake and eat it piece of satire, that ultimately is just as air-headed as the girls it looks down at and pities.
Oh and there’s also some pretty fucked up sexual politics here about sex corrupting good, god-fearing small town girls, just so you know. Yeah.
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