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Review: Spring Breakers

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I can’t say Harmony Korine’s surname without breaking up the syllables and delivering it in a southern drawl, like I’m a hill-billy greeting an out-of-towner. (*Whaa yaw say yaaw name be…ko-reeen?) Which makes it seem all too fitting that Korine has made Spring Breakers, a neon-lit youthful getaway fantasy, set on Florida’s southern coastline. Spring Break, for y’all foreigners out there, is an American traditional college semester break which has become known for its boozed up debauchery and wet T-shirt contests. In much the same way that Majorca or Ibiza serves the eighteen-to-thirty British youth.

Spring Breakers structure is pretty fluid and reminiscent of Terence Malick’s use of dream-like sequences and heavy reliance on voice over. The Malick comparison is limited to style only, as the script feels too loose and badly improvised. I got the impression that Korine gave some direction to the girls for key scenes and just left the camera rolling for the rest. Leaving the storytelling for the editing room. Some scenes are repeated and large parts of previously heard dialogue are looped over other visuals and scenes later on in the film. Which starts to get annoying after you’ve heard someone say the same thing for the fifth time. The stand-out for me in this film is the cinematography of Benoît Debie, whose lighting helps create the fantasy element through the beautifully choreographed use of neon bright pink, green and red gels to represent the youthful bubble-gum pop world of our protagonists.

Korine has deliberately gathered this barely legal cast of ex-Disney tween-hearts along with a truly creepy James Franco, to send shivers down the spine of any proud college kid parent. But then this is can be expected from the writer behind Kids. Franco, in particular, gives a believable performance as the ruff-riding wannabe rapper-come gangsta, Alien (*Pronounced A-Lean). His performance was so on the money that he managed to creep out actress Selena Gomez to the point of crying. The 18-year old Gomez, said she only become comfortable talking to Franco after wrapping up and seeing him at the film’s premiere in a regular suit, sans corn-rows.

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I don’t blame Gomez, it must have been daunting jumping into the seedy world of Harmony Korine and then act opposite James Franco, while jocks try to hump you and pour beer down your chest. A lot for any young actress to take, not to mention her first film outside of the safe confides of the Disney family. But kid stars like her need these baptisms of fire to make it past their childhood careers into adulthood, otherwise they don’t tend to be taken too seriously. Have a look at Zach Efron for example. He had to endure Nicole Kidman’s golden showers for his role in The Paperboy. She literally pissed away his childhood innocence in one scene. (*Coincidently Kidman tried this on her ex-husband Tom Cruise, and she was subsequently freed from her billion year contract with Xenu.)

I’m not sure if I’ve made up my mind on Spring Breakers yet, as it does feel one part exploitation, another part art project. Sometime its feels more like a really long R-rated music video with a vaguely interesting story arc. The opening scene, had the audience in nervous hysterics, as a slow motion scene of gyrating naked breast played alongside a thumping Skrillex track in the background. Nobody knew quite what to make of it. It also felt like the end of the film brought on a collective WTF moment, with everyone walking out of the cinema confused as to what they had just watched.

For me the highlights of Spring Breakers is James Franco’s performance and the fitting score by Skrillex and Drive’s Cliff Martinez, along with the excellent Cinematography of Debie. So if you like watching James Franco serenade a group of girls, with a Britney Spears song,  holding AK-47s while wearing pink balaclavas, then maybe this film is for you. Otherwise the film itself doesn’t really explore any new territory.

The soundtrack for the film is available on Spotify here.

GRADE: C+

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Comments

  1. It makes you think about the generation we’re in, even if it doesn’t go all the way with it’s story. Still, worth a watch for what it says alone. Good review Stu.

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