Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) are four young friends looking for something fun to do on spring break. Everyone seems to be out of town, while they’re still hanging around campus bored to death and with no money. While Faith is busy with her religious group’s meetings, her girlfriends decide to rob the local chicken shack to pony up some cash. After their successful coup they hurry on the next bus to Florida. After days of heavy drinking, casual drug use mixed with spiritual soul-searching, the police shows up and the party is over. With no cash to pay bail, it looks like the ladies are left to rot in prison (for two days), but luckily local gangster and rapper Alien (James Franco) gets an interest in their case. After freeing them from jail, they join him in his convertible, but Faith doesn’t feel very comfortable around thugs and former inmates. Alien is a gentlemen and lets her return home. Candy, Brit and Cotty stay with Alien, but things are about to get crazy as some old gang rivalries resurface.
Written and directed by cult art house filmmaker Harmony Korine (Rachel Korine’s husband), Spring Breakers is probably his best film to date. It certainly is his most flashy looking. Benoît Debie (Gaspar Noe’s collaborator) uses neon lights and natural light to create an immersive, almost hallucinatory sensory experience. The tone and atmosphere of the film is also helped a great deal by its eclectic soundtrack: Skrillex remixes are used for the scenes of debauchery and fun, while the gangster scenes are accompanied by some serious hip hop tracks. Cliff Martinez‘s dark notes are best used during the more contemplative and dramatic moments of the film. Filming mostly on location Harmony Korine was able to capture spring break’s festive essence and the danger of Florida’s underbelly. The inspired choice in neon costume design add both to the style of the picture, while also adding a layer of credibility to the characters. Unfortunately, except for Faith and Alien the characters are poorly developed.
Re-watching Spring Breakers in the comfort of my home, instead of a noisy theater, was a rewarding experience even though it’s the kind of film you want to see on the big screen. On a first viewing I had some issues with the editing, but reflecting upon the film and re-visiting it I was more thank okay with it. The film offers some interesting social commentary, discussing timely issues such as the ‘new’ American Dream. In the film Faith says she finally found herself. The journey the four girls embark on is not just one of transgression and bacchanalia, but also an expedition of self-discovery and search of true meaning. In many ways the whole movie could be seen as one big dream sequence, thus the need for non-linear narration. And what are movies if not dreams adapted for the screen?
It’s worth noting that Spring Breakers shares a lot of similarities with Brian De Palma’s Scarface, which is also referenced in the film. Scarface also inspired Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Spring Breakers definitely seems very reminiscent of its color palette and aesthetic. Overall, the film is fun and enjoyable, but not in a conventional kind of way and I feel that underneath its shiny surface there is much more than meets the eye. But even if you stop at a surface level, there’s a lot to like, especially James Franco’s committed performance of an over-the-top character bordering insane.
Rating on Second Viewing
(on our Sony Bravia)
8.5 out of 10