Unlike his discomfiting “Trash Humpers,” the idea of hedonistic college students entangled in a world of unbeknownst, yet craved, darkness seemed to be more digestive for me (than a crazy film about crazy old people), and having that I savored his recent slasher “Stoker,” I decided to take my taste of Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers.” And I relished it and all its allegoric punches, however convoluted they may appear. Essentially a candy-colored “Scarface” reinforced with a strange yet ingenious insertion of Britney Spears songs, the film finds a quartet of college friends on a midterm spring break vacation in Florida. Financial constraints prove not an obstacle as three of them robbed a restaurant for the funds they need for the trip. And so, clad in motley bikinis, the foursome takes all the fun they can take.
Korine’s sense of style in visual and narrative aesthetics undoubtedly spark interest. This very interest in the film anchors us to the unfolding of a story that roots from this heightened longing to feel alive. “Everybody’s miserable here because everybody sees the same things,” points out the religious type of the group, aptly named Faith, played by Selena Gomez (“Hotel Transylvania”). “They wake up in the same bed, same houses, same depressing streetlights; one gas station. The grass–it’s not even green. It’s brown.” They, excluding Faith, rob a Chicken Shack, to cover the funds they need in order to have that “chance to see something different.” So they head on to Florida and sees a positively different scene in which they soak themselves with liquor and do everything that nowadays suffices as fun.
Too much fun lands the quartet in jail, from which an eccentric rapper-slash-hustler simply nicked as Alien bails them out of. This hustler looks and sounds and feels like trouble. And sure enough, he is. James Franco (“127 Hours”) layers this character with ridiculous mannerisms and accents, and add the fact that it’s an arguably well-written character, make him all the more likable. Alien is the modern embodiment of the American Dream. He makes all of his wealth because in his early years he had so desperately needed to. He doesn’t like that he has to kill people for money. This explains the manic enthusiasm when he shows all of the expensive things he got–he so earned it, after all. Korine’s sentiments about America’s puritanical culture is given strength with a strangely effective montage of violent sequences to the tune of Britney Spears’ “Everyday.” There’s a line in the bridge of that song that says, “this song is my sorry.” Maybe this is Alien’s apology, because he knows what he does is wrong; and in that scene we feel deep sympathy for him.
This is a film that will age as a classic and, whilst many who don’t understand it at all, will grow as a stingy social commentary about the scars and excesses of the idealized moral and spiritual ethics our society so repetitively pinpoints. “The water looks real pretty,” says Alien to his Disney-product girlfriends Vanessa Hudgens (“Sucker Punch”), Ashley Benson (TV’s “Pretty Little Liars”), and Rachel Korine (Harmony’s wife). “But the sharks are waiting. Lurking.” He might be referring to them, these innocent-looking gals whose innate darkness takes over in a violent, neon-colored, blood-soaked conclude; and he might be referring to the world as a whole. Regardless, “Spring Breakers” is a film filled with such gems and thus made powerful in effect.
Now that I’ve come to taste it, I want more. I might actually give his “Trash Humpers” a go.
RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 4)
WHAT OTHERS HAD TO SAY:
- “The movie repeats a lot of things they end up feeling empty and meaningless, which…was an impressive thing to portray” — Nostra from My Filmviews (read the full review)
- “Exploitive, entertaining, and unapologetically overstylized.” – Fogs from Fogs Movie Reviews (read the full review)
- “Harmony Korine deserves major credit for keeping his viewers on their toes, as he seemingly drops bits of foreshadowing then completely disregards them. I had no idea where the film was going to go, and for that, I am impressed.” — Eric from The Warning Sign (read the full review)
- “In a way it’s become a kind of controlled rebellion and this movie mocks that idea.” – Vern from The Cinematic Katzenjammer (read the full review)
- “Equal parts bombastic, horrifying and genius. Far and away the most amazing and unique film I have watched at the theater this year.” — Adam from 3 Guys 1 Movie (read the full review)