Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Breakers: Movie Review

Breaks the spring-break-genre mold by telling a dark story of college girls going to
darker and darker places.

“Spring Breakers” takes the spring break vacation and turns it on its head. It’s about everything that spring break represents and nothing it represents all at the exact same time. Four college girls do in fact go to Florida for spring break; they do in fact wear bikinis, get drunk, and do drugs. The film isn’t lying when they say that’s what it’s about. But it takes that culture and places it in a whole new genre. 2012

Directed by: Harmony Korine

Screenplay by: Harmony Korine

Starring: Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, Selena Gomez and James Franco

For starters, this is a drama not a comedy. The movie’s enthusiasts who got everything out of it that Harmony Korine was trying to say may refer to it as a comedy in the sense that the film makes fun of how that culture is revered in our current society. But there isn’t a laugh to be found, and there isn’t meant to be any. Others will laugh because it’s so ridiculous. But that depends on your frame of reference on watching.

If you’re expecting these girls to behave similarly to anybody you have ever met, then you will find it ridiculous. How quickly they go from their boring college lives to the dark recesses of the human psyche, is shocking and extreme. And probably ridiculous to some. But this film is better than others of its kind because these are wholly unique characters – we’ve never seen them in a movie like this before. As the film goes on, we’re never sure if they’re in over their heads, or if they’re about to turn the Floridian spring break hot spot on its head.

Three of the girls start out as pretty despicable people (the other one is religious). Their actions are bad but then their situation gets worse and that’s when the plot, or let’s call that character study, starts getting interesting. The girls meet Alien (James Franco) – a rapper, spring break gangster and philosopher. His name is Alien because he’s an alien – in his own philosophical way. He’s also unlike Franco as you’ve ever seen him before. He’s probably unlike most actors as you’ve ever seen before.

There are a lot of interesting power dynamics along with the dark but powerful evolution to the girls (or at least three of the girls). Sometimes what the film has to say can get lost amongst all the gratuitous shots of naked girls, alcohol and hard-core drug use. We’re also almost 30 minutes into the film before the story gets moving and it becomes apparent that the plot is a character study of these girls “finding themselves.”

The film is likely just going to be one of many extremely divisive films from 2013. “Spring Breakers” breaks the mold of spring break films and presents us with a film that is dark, dirty, and disgusting. At one glance it is completely unrealistic, but at a second glance these girls might be more frighteningly real than we would like to believe. On the surface, the film was everything that I hate, but I really liked it. It’s a story that doesn’t seem familiar even if it has been told before, but it has never been told in this setting before. And for that reason I do think “Spring Breakers” needs to be seen by all cinephiles alike.
Best of 2013

Similar Titles:

Drive (2011) - Driving a slow and thoughtful character study into a full-on violent crime thriller.

The Paperboy (2012) - In southern Florida where a racial murder case turns into a coming-of-age character study.

Savages (2012) - Entertaining crime thriller devolving into nauseating romantic drama.