Where: On the sofa
What: Crime drama
Director: Harmony Korine
Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, James Franco
Until Spring Breakers, director
Harmony Korine was best known for writing teensploitation drama Kids. In 1995
the movie about a group of NYC teens “enjoying” a lost day of sex, drugs,
violence and theft shocked many adult filmgoers. The youth of the day shrugged
while Korine left behind the skate parks to become a director of interesting
indie oddities like Gummo.
Nearly two decades later, Korine has come back to where he
began with a frenetic rites of passage movie. The plot, such as it is, sees
four boisterous high school girls plan a trip to Florida
for their spring break. Lacking the money to have the sort of fun they want in
the sunshine state, three of the girls snort cocaine and rob a diner with
sledgehammers and water pistols to fund the trip.
The four soon settle in to the Florida
spring break party scene, which is either paradise or hell, depending on your
age and interest in partying. Scantily clad teens, wild drinking and
drug-taking figure highly. British teens and early-twenty somethings don’t have
a direct comparison and prefer to pursue intoxication all-year round, but the
nearest equivalent is the annual summer rush to the Balearic and Canary
Islands. Besides, there can’t be too many viewers on this side of
the Atlantic who are not familiar with the concept of
spring break from MTV or Family Guy/American Dad parodies.
Cops inevitably break up the party and our four anti-heroines
– played by former Disney TV stars Selena Gomez and
Vanessa Hudgens; Ashley Benson, and Harmony’s wife, Rachel Korine – are hauled in front of a judge on drug charges. Druglord
Alien pays the girls’ bail, but introduces the unruly quartet into a life of
gangster squabbles that soon turns sour.
Some viewers will hate Spring Breakers. It’s trashy, slight
and ridiculous but could easily become a cult hit. One gets the feeling John Waters would enjoy it, but fair
enough. Based on his past work, Korine certainly enjoys Waters’ work, too.
Swathes of the film are little more than a slightly risqué
music video. Many scenes are bathed in sleazy red and blue lights, others have acres
of bare flesh, moshing jocks and an energetic Skrillex soundtrack. The
structure slips around with flashbacks, flashforwards and repeated gunshot
sound effects, voiceovers and lines of dialogue. Such cunning narrative
trickery and audio-visual stylistic flourishes are disorientating and perhaps
Korine’s attempt to make the audience feel they’re on their own woozy spring
Acting will not be what the film is remembered for, yet Benson
and Hudgens as Brit and Candy are excitingly unafraid and amoral, while James
Franco’s Alien is a must-watch. Part Bobby Peru from Wild At Heart, part
gangster-rapper turned Tony Montana, his dodgy business dealings help the final
act unspool in spectacular fashion.
Those searching for meaning won’t care much for Spring
Breakers, but fans of fast, punchy party films like Go, Human Traffic and The Rules
of Attraction will find plenty to love here.