Spring Breakers Review (Or Intentionally Bad Advertising At Its Best)
I might get called crazy for this but to me, Spring Breakers is this generations (my one to be specific) Fight Club or Natural Born Killers, a rare piece of cinema that is made by and for the exact time it’s released and shown to blow the minds of its target audience who go in expecting The Hangover: College Girl edition and come seeing themselves and their lives in a whole new manner. This is not only a great film, it’s a downright important one.
The plot is simple and seems to be going one way before you realise that the film is expecting you to expect that and turns into something else. It starts off as you’d think, four college girls, friends since kindergarten, rob a fast-food joint in order to pay their way to Spring Break, escaping their monotonous lives of the same, boring, midtown shite and see the world and for the first half that’s what you get, an almost documentary style look into the wild ride that MTV has promised us all our lives and event the stuff it doesn’t.
That is until the girls are arrested on a possession bust and are bailed out by whiteboy rapper and hustler Alien who promises to show them the ‘Real Party’. At this point you expect Alien’s friendly musing to entice the girls until his predatory instincts come through and scares them off and while that does happen it doesn’t have the effect you’re thinking of. This film becomes a very different beast than what you expect and it soon becomes apparent that the film has just bitch-slapped you.
The acting is pretty good, the four main girls all do a great job but other that Gomez’s ‘good-girl’ Faith there’s little to differentiate one from the other, the other three of them are all the same moral-less, depraved, sociopathic party-girl but to my mind that was how it was meant to be, each of the girls have a name but they’re rarely spoken, these characters are for the audience to put themselves into, see the world, this amazingly disgusting world, through the characters eyes and wonder how long before it all ends. This girls could be anyone and that’s what’s so horrifying.
To their credit each of the four girls are great, Gomez shows a mix of temptation and fear as the more wild side of Spring Break gets too much for her. Korine’s Cotty is usually away from the group, doing her own thing and never remembering any of it but the real stars of the group are Hudgen’s Candy and Benson’s Brit, the two of them are a pair and between them the darkness calls, they are truly despicable and depraved characters, utterly without conscience or fear. As the film goes on you get the feeling that this isn’t a film about how far the girls will go before they stop, it’s a film about how far the girls will go, period.
Of course I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention James Franco, think what you want about Franco, Alien is not only one of his roles, it’s the best role in the film and Franco disappears into it, channelling Oldman from True Romance, complete with tats, gold teeth and cornrows, Franco is set up to become the villain of the story. But that never comes, instead of being a snake in the grass Alien is just a plain old snake, so obviously slimy and dangerous but he thinks he’s so clever which just makes his stupidity all the more evident. He genuinely believes he’s destined for greatness and that the Spring Breakers are his reward so when he tells them he loves them he means it, there’s no lie in his actions.
Director Harmony Korine does a great job, mostly in the fact that he’s drawn you into this film with the promise of wild times but he doesn’t let you know how wild it gets until it’s too late. On the surface the film is directed really well, the kinetic pace of the editing and constant slow-downs, flash-backs, flash-forwards and disembodied voices all scream out to the drug fuelled nature of it’s characters, enhanced by the bright lights the whole film feels like a Neon Nightmare, a bad acid trip that just keeps getting worse and worse and you don’t know how far it’ll take you.
However where the film truly shines is what’s under the surface, I’ve already said that this film takes you to places you’re not expecting and I really mean it, this isn’t a film about the loss of innocence, this is a film about the finding of Vice. These girls are just the same as anyone, grown up in a world where videogames and movies are desensitized them to violence and sin, they see Spring Break not just as an escape from school but as an escape from life, it’s a true paradise to them, the ability to do whatever they want with no consequences. To it’s target audience the first half with all the fun and partying and nudity – there is a LOT is naked breasts on screen, almost perversely so – will make them want this care-free lifestyle all the more which will make the second half feel all the more real and horrific to them.
Overall, Spring Breakers could not have come at a better time, a couple years earlier or later and it might not have had the same effect. It’s a wonderfully disturbing tale and it uses itself brilliantly. Having four well-known, Disney actresses, role models to young girls, go down this road of sin and depravity, honestly enjoying it and not being able to stop themselves, it’s a shock to the system and to the audience. Combined with a story that surprises you and brilliantly directed by Korine, I meant it when I said this is an important film, whether you love it or hate it – and I guarantee people will hate it – that uncompromising look at this world will not be forgotten easily.