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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring Breakers Review

A24 Films
Spring Breakers Review
2013, 94 minutes
Rated R for strong sexual content, language, nudity, drug use and violence throughout

It is a miracle that a film this crazy got a wide release, but I am certainly glad it did.  Spring Breakers is wild, raunchy, disturbing, and fun.  Writer/director Harmony Korine made this beast with a cast that includes James Franco, Salena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Korine's wife, Rachel.  Every last person in this cast was completely game for Korine's twisted vision and carries it out with gusto.

Spring Breakers is the story of a group of four bored college girls (Gomez, Hudgens, Benson, and Korine) who want to "find themselves" and escape boring school life by going to Florida for Spring Break.  So, they rob the money they need to take their trip and go to Florida where they have sex, drink, do drugs, and get involved with a drug-dealing, weapons enthusiast rapper Alien (Franco).

What makes Spring Breakers unique is its willingness to show anything.  It has an abundance of nudity, kinky graphic sex, drug use, and violence, frequently mixed together.  The film has an insane energy to it and Korine structured the film so that it rarely stayed in one spot too long.  He cuts to future and past scenes in the middle of scenes occurring in the present and presents the film as a kind of fever dream.  The film was shot with mixed media by BenoĆ®t Debie, best known for shooting  Enter the Void.  Spring Breakers is lit with bright, beautiful neon colors which makes the film look fantastic.  

Clint Martinez (Drive, Contagion) scored the film and with his unique mixing of others' music with his own, he creates a soundtrack that emphasizes the craziness and dreaminess of Spring Break.  His score is very much like his score for Drive, dream-like and haunting, and the songs that he uses from others are in contrast, as much of them are dup-step.  This cranks up the energy level of the film.

Teens that are too young to view this film will see this as a promotion of sex, drugs, and drinking, but those old enough to understand Korine's social commentary will be rewarded.  During the film, the girls get involved with more and more illegal activities and descend lower and lower into the madness of Spring Break.  Korine shows that while on Spring Break, reality is completely shut out and all glimpses of normal society are nonexistent.  When college students are on Spring Break, they don't see that what happens during the break can have consequences on their regular lives and they will do anything to "find themselves".  College students on many campuses are restricted and therefore feel the need to rebel, and Spring Break is the perfect time for them to do so.  What they also don't realize is that Spring Break can get out of control and their idea of Spring Break and others' ideas of Spring Break can be dramatically different.  Korine shows the dark side of Spring Break.  As the movie progresses, the mood swings from light and fun to dark and violent.

Of the solid cast Korine put together to execute this film, James Franco and Selena Gomez really stand out.  Franco goes for broke as Alien.  He is absolutely hilarious and shows the dark side of one man's twisted American Dream.  Sporting teeth caps and corn rows, Franco is nearly unrecognizable in many scenes, completely transforming himself into Alien.  Selena Gomez plays Faith, a very religious girl who becomes overwhelmed by the debauchery occurring in Florida.  Her performance is understated and honest.  I see a very good career ahead for her.  The other three actresses turn in fine performances, but they are hard to judge because they really aren't required to do much.  

As great as this film is technically and as sharp as much of the commentary is, Spring Breakers has quite a few flaws.  The largest one that it becomes very repetitive.  There are only so many scenes of people drinking and doing drugs that I can see before becoming bored.  I got the point that Korine was trying to make, but after a while it became overkill.  Also, because of the unconventional nature of the narrative, some parts dragged and some of the substance of the film was lost.  One other major issue was that besides Gomez's character, the other three girls' characters were completely undeveloped which made me not care about them or have any interest in them at all.  While that very well may have been intentional, it did the movie no favors.  Without the emotional connection, my interest in the film waned.  

Overall, Spring Breakers is flawed, but very entertaining and unpleasant.  What makes this film so much more frightening is that while obviously this film is exaggerated, there is much of it that occurs every year in Florida over Spring Break.  Korine leaves the viewer with much to think about and succeeded in making something unlike anything I've ever seen before.

-Joshua Handler

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