Spring Breakers

by Alan Rapp on March 22, 2013

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Spring Breakers
  • IMDB: link

Spring BreakersHarmony Korine is a divisive filmmaker whose themes and characters are often are far more complicated then they initially appear but whose detractors often point to his limitless self-indulgence and gleeful exploration of his young stars; you shouldn’t expect anything less from the writer/director’s latest, Spring Breakers.

Korine knew exactly what he was doing in casting three attractive young Disney and ABC Family actresses (Selena GomezVanessa HudgensAshley Benson) to star along with his wife (Rachel Korine) in this tale of four thrill-seeking college students and their week of danger and debauchery over spring break.

The director is certainly exploiting each of the young women’s good-girl image to make the movie more titillating (which, despite the four young leads spending nearly the entire time in bikinis, it’s really not) while allowing each actress a chance to push outside the limits of kinds of roles they are usually known for.

The story begins in a dreary college campus where the troublesome threesome of Candy (Hudgens), Brit (Benson), and Cotty (Korine) decide to rob a local restaurant for the money they need to take their far more grounded friend Faith (Gomez) to Florida for spring break. Once they arrive the film gives us the expected spring break debauchery (partying, booze, drugs, and sex), but unlike many such films Spring Breakers also gives us the harsh reality and consequences of the litany of questionable choices the girls make which land them in prison and, later, in the home of a local low-level drug dealer (James Franco) who fancies himself a gangster and rap sensation.

You don’t have to like the leading characters of a movie, and Korine gives us very little reason to do so here, but the audience must be invested enough to want to see the story unfold (whether or not that story is filled with mostly awful individuals). In this Korine succeeds as the foursome are faced with the harsh reality of their situation (some earlier than others as their number is slowly whittled down to a single pair) and their gangster lover, whose bad end is all to easy to see coming.

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Like any of Korine’s films, Spring Breakers certainly isn’t for everyone. For my tastes the director relies far too much on flashback and flashforward montages and a few too many shots of the Florida highway and landscape. That said, the writer/director gets the best out of his four leading ladies and a compelling, if completely over-the-top, performance by Franco who gets all the movie’s best lines and steals nearly every scene in which he appears from his buxom young co-stars.

More gritty than fun, more drama than crazy party movie, and more insightful than you might initially suspect, Spring Breakers teases us with something akin to a hottie Hangover but quickly pulls the rug out from under our characters and delves into far more dark and interesting territory. Although it certainly navigates into the realm of the absurd, Spring Breakers never looses its focus of showcasing how a series of bad decisions while on spring break can lead to disastrous consequences for everyone involved. The end may not be as dark as I’d like (I think Korine lets our protagonists and the audience off a little too easy in terms of the longterm effects of their choices) but Korine is successful in delivering another film which his fans and critics can debate about for years to come.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Gladys March 28, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I don’t know what to think about his movie. I totally agree with you that the director is exploiting these young actresses but I was mesmerized and creeped out by the whole thing. This is really scary if you are a parent and I just hope my daughter is smart like Selena’s character to know when to say no even if that means leaving your friends to make their own mistakes.

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Midge March 29, 2013 at 2:28 pm

My teenage daughter wants me to take her to this but I don’t think I want to. Of course she could always sneak into a theater and see it without me which might even be worse. Not sure what to do.

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bymitzer April 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson were ah-mazing! That pool scene was hot!!! I usually like Selena Gomez but her character whined too much. The other girl was hot but I didn’t really care much for her.

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