drama, comedy, crime
Harmony Korine, VS 2012
English with Dutch subtitles
Spring Breakers is an absurd, brightly glowing tale of three girls (Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) who rob a restaurant to fund a booze-and-sex holiday in Florida with a fourth friend (Selena Gomez). The film is surprisingly good-looking, dreamy and soft-centred. Which is odd because, on the surface, Korine’s story overflows with nastiness: guns, drugs, dirty cash and endless sins of the flesh.
Once our bikini’d quartet arrive in Florida, their hard-partying lands them in jail, until they’re bailed out by Alien (James Franco), a gangster in a sports car who’s all cornrows, gold teeth and loud shirts. At first it seems like Alien is a joke, but it soon turns out he’s a gangster for real – although he still comes across as a complete clown. It’s a bizarre and upending performance; Franco gives it all he’s got and is forever spinning guns and fondling cash (when he’s not playing Britney Spears on a white poolside piano).
What threatens to be a down ’n’ dirty tits ’n’ ass fest in the style of Larry Clark actually turns into a warped fairytale of the American teen dream of hedonism and crime, one that takes itself just seriously enough not to be dismissed as trashy exploitation. It flirts with the mainstream – from which it borrows its style, music and actresses – but the film’s true intent is never fully clear. It’s campy and comic at times, but Korine also gives the film a downbeat, melancholic edge, with voiceovers, pointed repetition of dialogue and images, and hallucinatory camera work, sound and editing.