Spring Breakers Reviews
May 21st 2016
Spring Break is a right of passage in today's society, a getaway for many to indulge in endless nights of partying, drugs, booze, sex, and hedonism. The film in itself is a statement of the corruption of today's youth, even changing the statuses of Disney icons Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez as they star in their best, and most iconic, performances, well, ever. Their transition to such a mature subject film further reiterates the vile corruption that plagues the youth of today.
"The film follows four college friends as they rob a Chicken Shack with water pistols in order to pay for their spring break trip to Florida. The BFF soak up sun, drink and drugs as the days and nights merge into one long party of excess. However, after a brush with the law they find themselves in the care of a drug dealing rapper called Alien who invite the girls into his fantasy world of money, guns and amorality."
-Adam Cook (excerpt from his wonderful review because he summed up the film better than I could ever do)
Although heavy on the indulgence cinematic devices, Korine merely satirizes the senseless and hedonistic vapidity of today's youth; the most compelling aspect of this transformation is how open the girls are to corrupting their own moral compasses rather than let the plight of the spring break fantasy ruin themselves. It's a bleak but honest portrayal that is unfortunately true.
James Franco's brilliant performance as Alien (definite Oscar nomination snub) is a twisted embodiment of the American Dream as he relishes in his materialistic instinct and belonging. Yet underneath the conniving grillz is a tortured soul that is subtly exposed in a numerous moments of exposition (one being a funny cover of Brittany Spears' "Everytime"). He then uses money, guns, and riches to seduces the four leads (sans Gomez's aptly named character Faith who leaves the film early, symbolizing that initial instinct of one's moral compass). His mantra and bravado portray Franco as "part-prophet/part-Peter Pan" as he is forced to exist as a symbolic being in the warped fantasy of Spring Break-land. Much like himself, he offers no escape as the wealth and hedonism is all he knows, and loves.
The film's hazy cinematography, repetitive nature, saturated debauchery, use of narration, and out of order clips provide a dreamlike ambiance that, combined with the languid and consistent pacing, reinforces Korine's sense of style as he sensationalizes this neon-drenched nightmare. Skrillex's aggressive dubstep and Clint Mansell's pensive score highlight the spectacular lit scenes (phone calls, discussion) that give the viewer a well needed break from the hyper-sensational imagery as the saturation perfectly contrasts the drab atmosphere of the early scenes pre-Spring Break.
For a film that was advertised as an overtly sexual experience, the film is oddly sexless and more focused on the corruption of the youth. Much like the gambit Stanley Kubrick pulled with Eyes Wide Shut , the film fools the viewer into seeing something pleasurable but towards the end, it's a sickening yet unshakeable experience.
To call this film vapid and superficial is to completely miss the point, but that only reinforces Korine's intentions. Sure, it's easy to make snap judgements of false cheap thrills and amoral pleasure, but the film is a woozy, mesmerizing, beautifully shot, expertly edited and paced hypnotic neon-nightmare that is a more than generous reflection of the twisted fantasy known as The American Dream.
Harmony Korine's films are artistic, brutally honest, and eye-opening snapshots of life. If there is any film, besides Project X , that perfectly reflects Generation Y, it's this film. Welcome to America; as Alien would say "spring break forever." Spring Breakers is the single most misunderstood piece of cinema in the past decade, shining brightly on its neon pedestal of debauchery, empty promises, and mesmerizing chaos. A cult classic to be.