Director: Harmony Korine
Screenwriter: Harmony Korine
Runtime: 92 mins
Australian Release Date: 9 May 2013
Previewed at: Dendy Newtown, Sydney, on 16 April 2013
Mining the same ground as his script for Larry Clarke’s Kids (1995), Harmony Korine lifts the lid on the emptiness at the heart of American youth culture in his latest film. Spring Breakers delves below the surface of binge drinking and rampant drug use, exposing the underbelly of the shot-driven pop culture that exists in many ‘developed’ countries - Schoolies’ week, anyone? In a brilliant case of art-imitating-life casting, Korine has Disney popettes, Serena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, as two of his bad girl leads; after this effort, I don’t think we’ll be seeing these young ladies in the ‘Mouse House’ again anytime soon!
After a wild opening act in which nubile young women in bikinis fellate iced popsicles while boys pour beer over their tops (oh yes, this is a mind-boggling ride of political incorrectness), we are introduced to four young college girls, Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine), who are bored, broke and desperate to get to Florida for the spring break. In a cleverly shot scene, they raise the funds to get there by robbing a fast food outlet, thus setting the tone for the rest of the film.
While carousing down in Florida, they get arrested when a room ‘rage’ party is raided by the local cops. Enter rapper Alien (James Franco), all dreads, tatts and silver teeth, the drug dealer from hell, who is ready to ‘party’ with all four girls. What follows is a roller-coaster ride to the dark side as Franco ramps up the volume… and the danger. Watch out for one of the most outrageous, and funny, scenes you will experience in the cinema this year, when he takes the babes home to show them his ‘shit’. If it were not for the movie’s subject (which will probably deny him a nomination) this scene would be worthy of an Oscar. He is unrecognisable from his earlier roles.
Spring Breakers is certainly not a film to everyone’s taste and few will accept its message. However, if you look below its glittering surface and its genre artifice, you will be rewarded by some highly original film-making; like Douglas Crise’s looped editing and Korine’s minimal script, which plays like a kind of mantra in places; like the director’s combination of real spring break footage with his own vision - not easy to tell apart as the hedonistic archive images are just as debauched as the brightly-lit scripted ones, thanks to French cinematographer Benoit Debie; like Cliff Martinez’s and Skrillex’s attention-grabbing soundtrack combining rap and electronic dance music, plus a couple of ironically-used ‘classic’ Britney Spears numbers, and you would be forgiven if you were blown away by this utterly offensive, yet clever film.
As Aussies copy most things American this could be a depiction of things to come, so God help the Gold Coast, for this movie is a real eye opener on the prevailing attitudes of the current generation. When all thought and care are thrown to the winds, in the words of Alien, it’s “Spring break forever!”