Monday 4 May 2015

Movie Review: Spring Breakers (2012)

A stylish, almost hallucinogenic dive into the annual hedonistic party ritual in Florida, Spring Breakers is an unhinging experience, equally commanding attention and testing patience. Four girls set off to have fun in the sun, and find all that and a lot more.

At an unnamed nondescript college in an unnamed bland suburb, four girlfriends are looking forward to a spring break escape to Florida. Faith (Selena Gomez) is religious, while Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) are more fun-loving. Short of money to make the trip, Brit, Candy and Cotty borrow a car and rob a local restaurant, using toy guns. They are thrilled with the power-rush.

The girls make it to Florida and initially have a great time. But it all goes wrong when they are involved in a party with hard drugs, and soon find themselves under the influence of rapper / gangster Alien (James Franco).

Directed and written by Harmony Korine, Spring Breakers is less of a movie and more of a trip. Deploying various flashy techniques including repetitions of dialogue snippets, micro flash-forwards, and hand-held amateur-style filming of the party-soaked atmosphere, Korine creates his own break from the ordinary, the film becoming a metaphor for suspending the rules and soaking in a surreal environment.

There are few normal scenes in the film, and even fewer traditional conversations. The events unfold in a trance-like explosion of amplified colours, sounds and some truly unique images, a capturing of memories soiled by unnamed substances and the human need to exaggerate. There is only so much varnish that can be applied to a party culture, and like a magazine with too many glossy pictures and hardly any text, the film's style consumes its content.

And in the context of "if it's different fun you're looking for, it's different fun we've got", the film steers the four young girls towards a nightmare side road rarely traveled during any vacation break, a figurative dark alley where the dangerously seductive predator Alien resides, ready to financially manipulate, physically control and emotionally dominate his chosen victims.

With James Franco delivering a mesmerically crazed performance, Alien's charisma immediately defines him as attractive to girls bored with the ordinary, a wolf in rapper's clothing all too willing to bare his teeth and reveal his true intentions, confident that his unique divergence makes his danger irresistible. Alien represents the lure of breaking free from social laws, a journey that for the girls starts with an impulsive restaurant robbery and ends with mayhem, emotions blunted by an overdose of excitement. The loud music, free-flowing beer, endless beaches, sex and drugs parties: it's all so attractive until more becomes less, and the soul is lost in the blur of too much of everything.

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