From the opening drop of Skrillex set to partying Spring Breakers on a beach, director Harmony Korine isn't afraid to show the sun, the sand, the flesh, the sex, the fun and the excess of Spring Break. It is an arresting opening, a delirious delve into sin and salaciousness. Girls are the focus from the start, their bodies, bikinis and lurid actions only made more icky by the behaviour of the young guys who revel in these party girls and their desire to have a good time by getting down and dirty and really letting themselves go.
Spring Breakers shows the dark boredom of the lecture hall. These privileged kids are bored by the seemingly irrelevant teachings of college, despite the modern technology of laptops and power points that should engage them more than education could have ever done in the past.
But Korine has already showed us that opening on a Florida beach. The sun and the sand is calling these kids. It's calling us in the audience. The booze, the drugs and the sex are appealing, if also deeply seedy. It's clear from the start that the four girls would rather be teasing boys, engaging in sexual encounters and getting their bodies out in the sun from the start.
Only Faith (Selena Gomez) emerges as a character with any real limits or self-respect. Like her name, Faith is a believer, the only girl it appears with any morals or that can even be differentiated from her blonder, wilder friends. These girls appear to live in a moral vacuum where robbing a restaurant is a reasonable response to a lack of money.
Spring Break isn't too believable when it deals with its character motivations. It's hard to believe that the three girls who commit the robbery would really do this to fund their spring break fun. But the film doesn't stop there. It is a hyper real cartoon. Everything is dream-like, flowing, circular, lucid. The scenes cut back and forth between each other, the timeline jumbled and free, just like the girls think they are. They want spring break to last forever and the way the dialogue loops and the scenes repeat, it seems almost like director Korine and editor Douglas Krise also want to make their happy time last forever.
Coke is snorted, bongs are hit, endlesss alcohol is imbibed and it appears for a short time that the girls have found their very own paradise where the sun always shines, the drugs are free and all the boys want them. It's a depressing state of affairs for any feminists in the audience. These girls have no characters, no morals and seem to do anything to make themselves appeal to the opposite sex. Girls may just want to have fun but their definition of fun involves to some extent simply being the fantasy playthings of animalistic young men.
When James Franco turns up as drug dealer Alien, it seems like he may steal the film from his spring break 'bitches' and suddenly these major characters will be written out. Actually the girls start to become clearly differentiated and the film takes a turn for the even more surreal. It's an astounding performance from Franco. You literally can't take your eyes off him, despite his silly, depressing mantras and love of guns, girls, money and everything that goes with the gangster life.
Spring Breakers becomes more and more beautiful as the story becomes bleaker and bleaker. The wonderful and occasionally deranged music of Cliff Martinez and Skrillex, not to mention one beautiful, hypnotic, mesmerizing and hilarious use of Britney Spears makes this a cocktail of neon light, bright colour, light and dark and perfect music.
It is like a dream and a nightmare all in one; wish fulfillment, fantasy and freak show. It is a celebration of sleeze, a cautionary tale and a riotous, irresponsible thrill ride. Relentlessly rude, shocking and disturbing but often absolutely gorgeous, Spring Breakers may not have the same level of memorable characters as the Harmony Korine scripted Kids but it is still is a must see!
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