Director: Harmony Korine
Stars: James Franco, Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson
High School Musical meets Gummo
I remember when Spring Breakers first started rearing its head with its trailers and posters, and I was so confused. It starred these ex Disney channel girls and was written and directed by the same man who created Gummo, a film that I still dare not see due to how much the trailer and clips, I’ve seen have scared me*. Harmony Korine also did an even weirder looking film called, Trash Humpers which basically follows people wearing old man masks and dry-hump skips. Harmony’s films have never been mainstream. They instead appeal to the sick few of us, who are interested in the weirder side of film.
Spring Breakers is definitely Harmony’s most mainstream film, and it makes me wonder how on Earth he was able to convince such high profile mainstream stars to take part in his experimental art film. Of course there is genius behind these casting choices. Spring Breakers was presented as a teen film with a bit of action in, when actually it’s a little experimental art-house film about our generation who follow celeb culture and have dreams of getting as much sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and booze as possible.
To my knowledge, Harmony Korine has never been one for too much plot and Spring Breakers continues this fashion. It’s basically about four girls who are looking to break away from their mundane lives and thus go over to Florida’s famous spring break, only to be arrested and bailed out by a slimy James Franco who leads them into a strange world of violence. There really isn’t much to the film, but that didn’t really bother me too much. Spring Breakers is all about the execution and atmosphere. There’s enough narrative to stop you from getting bored though.
Every review that I’ve read (love or hate) has agreed that the film is pretty spectacular to look at. The neon-soaked images reminded me of the masterfully moody, Only God Forgives and the unnaturally bright daylight gives off an unnerving vibe. As with most art films, it will either click for you or it won’t. Spring Breakers clicked for me. I felt kind of swept away by the dreamlike images and unconventional editing. It’s executed in such a strange way with lines being repeated over voice-over, random shotgun noises, slow-motion nudity over dub step, I couldn’t help but feel sucked into its strange world.
The acting is pretty OK all round. James Franco is good, but not as great as people rave about. His performance is extremely over-the-top, which may impress some people, but to me it was just hammy. He did have a more than a bit of Bobby Peru in his character, and I think he must’ve taken notes from Willem Dafoe’s legendary performance in Wild at Heart. Spring Breakers becomes incredibly hallucinatory towards the end with a bizarre shootout, drenched in some beautiful colourful lighting and complete with glow-in-the-dark balaclavas.
I’m not really sure what Spring Breakers means, but I think it’s definitely a film that you have to feel rather than understand. If you go along with its loony execution and lose yourself in the images, then you might find something quite special. It was an experience I quite enjoyed and one which I’d happily relive. I completely understand why most people hate it though. It appeals to the wrong market. Tweenagers aren’t going to give this film a chance, unless they’re into weird cult films like I am. I think that Spring Breakers is a very cool and colourful film, and one which makes you think too.
*Update: I have now seen Gummo. Please read my review here if you’re interested? 🙂