Directed By: Harmony Korine
Let’s just start out by stating that I am really late in watching this film. Now that I have I am enthralled to write about it. In a seemingly ‘Project X’ fashion, Spring Breakers is about four bored college girls (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine) who want to have a memorable spring break. They go down to Florida and party like it’s the 70’s at Dennis Hopper’s house. They fatefully meet Alien (James Franco) a self made gangster-rapper and drug lord. From the first 5 minutes we realize this is nothing any of us were expecting. The film slowly travels into dark territories.
This is an obvious departure to Korine’s previous films ‘Gummo’, ‘Trash Humpers’ and ‘Mister Lonely’. But the departure is kinda-sorta a facade. If you are familiar with Korine then you would know his style and the kinds of films he made. A deconstruction of images. Painted with gorgeously vibrant colors, neon lights, and a ‘Drive’ like score from Cliff Martinez, Spring Breakers operates similarly to a Pop song. With scenes and pieces of dialogue repeating themselves like a chorus, that you would find in a Britney Spears track. The movie is composed of several montages, kind of like a music video, with the dialogue acting as lyrics. Each “montage” is non-linear, expressing certain emotions out of sync. So Korine may have not departed from his avant-garde style, it just seems that way since he is dealing with a mainstream topic. Really an analysis of mainstream youth culture. Kind of like what he did with ‘Kids’ back in the 90’s. But with a whole new team of youngsters.
These “youngsters” are just like your average, every day college party girls with no depth. And each of these actresses play it well. You are supposed to be ashamed and a bit disgusted by their vile actions, even the way the talk is nauseating. But Franco shines out of everyone. As a method actor, he is Alien. He is that greasy slime bag that we are all familiar with. He may be good hearted, but his presence makes the viewers uncomfortable. There is something irk-some about his portrayal. His character has a sense of relativity to everyone he encounters, we feel that closeness as a kind of intimidation. From his cornrows, and grilled teach, I felt like I could smell his breath. The scene where Alien makes Selena Gomez cry is the perfect example of his wretched behavior. He speaks nothing but kind words but it’s the mysterious mental distance and physical closeness that makes him seem like an actual alien. Just a well thought out and brilliantly portrayed character. A representation of the American dream.
Spring Breakers is a film about mainstream, current culture. An MTV and media fueled culture. I feel as if Britney Spears herself could have been one of the girls in the movie. Her boredom of the “good girl” persona and her descent into the wild, “party all night” territory that inspired numbers of teenage girls. These girls are metaphorical descendants of the Pop Princess. I loved how this movie highlighted the current lifestyle of young adults and their craving for easy-earned money, drugs, guns, and sex. This brings me to my question, could Spring Breakers be considered as an Exploitation Film? It has all the basic traits, girls with guns, an analysis and breakdown of a certain culture. A movie about the pursuit of fun, but ends up being far, far from it.