Spring Breakers (2012)
★★ / ★★★★
Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine), and Brit (Ashley Benson) made plans to go to Florida for Spring Break. Although they have managed to save some money during the school year, they still do not have enough to get there, let alone pay for the motel and other necessities. Desperate to have their vacation, they rob a restaurant and get away it with. At first, it is exactly as they imagined: the parties are fun, there is a lot of drugs and alcohol, and they meet all sorts of people. However, the fun and games come to a halt when they are arrested.
“Spring Breakers,” written and directed by Harmony Korine, is one of those movies that rubbed me the wrong way at first, but the more I spent time with it, I felt as though there might be some meaning behind the incessant shots of voluptuous breasts, open and well-waxed crotches, and young people on the verge of alcohol poisoning.
Despite its sunny and neon-colored template, there is a glaring lack of vibrancy in the girls’ lives. They are bored with being in college and experiencing the same thing every day. They have convinced each other that by going on this trip, it will allow them to see something different and “find” themselves. It is interesting that the characters talk as if they were sleepwalking. And in a way, they are. They are so into their fantasy of having the perfect vacation that they fail to appreciate what they have in front of them.
At its core, I believe the writer-director wishes to make a statement about young people in America and their sense of entitlement. It is what has driven the girls to hold people at gunpoint and demand them of their money; to take someone else’s car and burn it; and to lie to their worried parents about their whereabouts. They believe that they deserve a week of reckless behavior even if it means putting themselves and others in danger.
How Korine communicates his message is a different matter. There is a lot of repetition. Images of women being objectified–topless, on the floor being showered in alcohol, sensually kissing other women–appears to be a common theme. Is it meant to be sexy? Offensive? When repetition is utilized, it is often meant to make something clear. But in this case, it does exactly the opposite because the images are on autopilot–a lack of a defined perspective. There is repetition in the dialogue, too. It gets unbearable after a while.
The most interesting and bizarre performance goes to James Franco, playing a slime of a man named Alien who reckons himself “a gangster with a heart of gold.” The scene between Franco and Gomez as Alien talks Faith into not going home just yet because he “likes” her so much is so creepy, it made me want to crawl out of my skin. This is after the gangster, likely to be in his thirties, tells Faith that she looks like a fifteen-year-old.
“Spring Breakers” made me want to root for the girls by hoping that they will get hurt before their situation turns so bad that they will never recover from it. And yet–clearly, they are neck-deep in their delusion that something extreme has to happen for them to wake up.