Spring Breakers is an uncouth and unapologetic look at the hedonistic world of the annual Spring Break holiday, where college students head to Florida to let loose. The film has been promoted with a fanfare of trailers and posters which accentuate the sexuality of the four main "good girls, gone bad" characters, with promises of enough wild antics to make even the most promiscuous viewer choke on their popcorn. But don't be fooled, director Harmony Korine's primary goal isn't simply to titillate (even though there are a plethora of scenes to fulfil that particular goal). It's quite the opposite, and instead he has decided to take a large torch to shine a moral light on the debauchery that is accustomed to this annual ritual.
Korine perhaps made a deliberate choice in selecting ex-Disney and Nickelodeon alumni Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez and Ashley Benson to star as the good girl's gone bad to really bring some form of realism to the narrative. Along with his real life wife Rachel Korine - Candy, Brit, Faith and Cotty are four college BFF's who want more out of life than going to boring old lectures and listening to boring old teachers. Spring Break represents more than just a holiday for these girls, but also a chance to experience life outside of their small town community for the first time. With barely enough money to buy a two pieces of chicken and chips, the girls (minus Faith, who is busy attending bible studies) decide to hold up a fast food chicken diner to secure the funds they need, and thus begins their journey to dark side.
Once they reach Spring Break, cue the slow-motions scenes of partying, booze, drugs, breasts and booty galore. The lewdness is of epic proportion and is to be expected from a film that explores one of the raunchiest rituals of youth culture. However paradise quickly descends into a nightmare when the girls end up behind bars for partying too hard, and their fairy tale appears to be coming to an end. But like a knight in shining armour , in steps Alien (James Franco) - a part time rapper and full time gangster to rescue the girls from jail time and thus beings part two of their adventure. Part two involves the girls essentially becoming Alien's entourage, wearing matching bikini's, rocking AK-47's and defending Alien's turf against his enemy Archie - played by full time rapper, part time actor Gucci Maine.
Visually, Spring Breakers is entrancing; a gorgeous mix of day-glo, slow-mo and impressive camera work from cinematographer Beniot Debie that really sets this film apart from anything you'll likely to watch this year. The pulsating soundtrack from Cliff Martinez (Drive) adds to the trippy atmosphere. The visuals and sound are really the stars of the film and even when the story and standard performances from the female leads leave you a bit jaded, the aesthetics never disappoint.
The other star of this film is James Franco, who literally takes Spring Breakers, puts it on his back and carries it for the duration of time he is onscreen. Only the visuals are able to contend with his outstanding performance, because Hudgens and co just couldn't compete his mammoth portrayal of the gold-platted teeth wearing gangster. If anybody questioned Franco's credentials as a serious actor, this performance will certainly elevate any doubts, because he delivers a flawless display that will have viewers watching the film simply for his scenes. Franco's "Look at my sh!t" monologue is worth the admission fee alone, he captivates with a perfect mix of comedic and serious turns that really gives this film the edge that it was surely missing before he stepped on screen.
Korine could be accused of being all style and no substance because whilst there is no question that the film is pleasing to the eye, underneath it all; the conclusion of the film doesn't leave any real clear message and the lack of likeable characters apart from Franco's Alien leaves you a bit detached. Nevertheless, Spring Breakers is a stunning, stylish spectacle that truly establishes Korine as a master of visual storytelling.
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