Spring Breakers (2013)
Rated – R
Directed by Harmony Korine
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, James Franco, Rachel Korine
Harmony Korine is most famous for writing the screenplay for Kids, but I’m sure that Spring Breakers will surpass that. The themes of both films are similar: youth, sex, drugs, and bad decisions. Is this a commentary about how shallow the youth of America has become? How Girls Gone Wild and MTV have poisoned the minds of many where they’ll do anything just to party like the beautiful people they see in music videos? Maybe, but I’m not quite sure and I wouldn’t be surprised if Korine was unsure either. There are some great moments in Spring Breakers, but then there are also many flaws.
The films revolves around four college girls, three of whom are naughty and the other one nice. In order to raise enough money to attend Spring Break in Florida, the naughty ones rob a local restaurant in one of the better scenes in the film. The way the camera circles the restaurant briefly showing the action inside displays some of Korine’s poetic direction. From there, the girls party, drink, and do drugs like there’s no tomorrow, but after being thrown in jail for partying too hard one day a shady fellow who goes by the name Alien bails them out.
Alien is played by James Franco, who gives a show-stopping performance as an edgy drug-dealer who provides the girls with a lifestyle they all crave. He lives freely without any rules or boundaries, has plenty of money and isn’t afraid to throw around his wealth and power. He’s got nothing to lose, which is a dangerous state to be in, and that exact way of living is an addiction to the girls.
The opening sequence of the film suggests it’s going to be a fun, enjoyable flick, but Spring Breakers takes a dark turn to the dangerous levels of the disturbed. The tone imitates one of a horror film, presenting a group of good-looking people in a happy setting and flipping it completely upside-down. All those pretty, smiling facing are hiding behind a mask from their tortured, rotten ideas of being free. They think that just because they robbed the money they use, that they actually earned it. It’s the get-rich-quick mentality, the living in the moment without a glance at the future style that Spring Breakers focuses on. And boy, it’s not a pretty picture.
The film will be recognized for the young actresses taking a leap towards a more mature career. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Benson are all familiar with the spotlight, but not this type. It takes a while to adapt to seeing these Disney and WB stars acting vulgar on-screen, but they do a good enough job for it to become convincing.
The saving grace of this campy film relies on Franco’s shoulder. As the only character developed, Franco gives Alien the complications he needs. He’s a sharp knife with a torn up background and spends his life living without consequences. Can you get on board with a film that is like a dream to the youth but a nightmare for adults? For kids, they want that easy money, all-day parties, and distance from their parents. But every party that begins has to eventually end. Do you finally return to the real world or would you pursue the next party?