Ever wonder what those half naked girls dancing around the beaches of MTV's Spring Break programming were doing behind the scenes? Me neither, but filmmaker Harmony Korine seemed to have some sort of idea, and a highly absorbing one to tell the truth. In his newest film, the appropriately titled Spring Breakers is exactly that – kicked into overdrive.
Korine and renowned cinematographer, Benoit Debie, together created the most visual stunning film of the year, thus far. The enchanting images and camera work of Debie gel perfectly with Korine’s distinctive story structure, birthing a Malickian film that manages to capture the generation of us who grew up with MTV and TRL, Brittany Spears and N’SYNC, and who are now trying to figure out what to do with dubstep. Spring Breakers is how Korine sees the generations that followed him, the one he just missed, and what he presents here is nothing short of exceptional.
Faith (Selena Gomez) and a few of her fellow college girlfriends have been saving up all semester to travel to Miami and experience things they’ve only dreamed about. No doubt fueled by what they’ve seen on MTV throughout their youth, its their time to go wild, get drunk, do drugs and have sex with someone they’ll never see again – but with only a couple days before their journey, the girls count their money and come up a little short. And so the craziness begins – even before the beach – as the girls, in desperation to join the mayhem in Miami, rob a restaurant armed with toy guns and rubber mallets to secure the last of their required funds and great amount more.
With thousands of young people, an affluence of booze, loud music, dancing and plenty of debauchery to go around, the girls have arrived at the spring break they dreamed about. When not partying at the beach, the girls roam around the city on mopeds, never dressing in any more than a bikini, which is both concerning and quite sexy. They frequent house parties when the sun goes down, never letting the party stop. Police step in however, and the quartet of bikini darlings spend the night in jail. Enter Alien (James Franco) a local rapper/drug dealer who bails the girls out uses them to push his product. All but Faith go along with the plan, because why not? The girls seem to be living on the edge and going wherever the wind takes them, and as Faith’s bus pulls away, taking her back to the dull, school-filled life she had before Spring break, we say goodbye to the film’s protagonist – if we ever had one to begin with.
After being exposed to Alien and his over-the-top personality, it’s hard to not like the guy, drug dealer or not. Korine often uses unique characters in his films, and Spring Breakers is no different. Perhaps it’s the fact that Franco plays the character so well – again, over-the-top – or rather maybe because of Alien’s outrageous characteristics, there’s a transparency that forces the audience to see Franco in the roll and nothing else. This would be a problem with most films, but Spring Breakers is anything but most films.
Advertisements may deceive audiences into thinking the film plays in the vein of Project X or 21 & Over, but this could not be further from the truth. In fact, it’s likely to hear complaints from those who saw the film on opening weekend. Truth be told, Spring Breakers is an art house film that was lucky enough – or had enough money put behind it – to have a wide-release and confuse the hell out of some patrons who don’t know the name Harmony Korine. (A)
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