Director: Harmony Korine
Writer: Harmony Korine
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, James Franco
Runtime: 94 minutes
Rating: 65% Fresh
Views: 1st Viewing (June 30, 2013)
Spring Breakers is Harmony Korine’s incredible controversial and divisive follow-up to his 2009 horror experiment Trash Humpers. Spring Breakers follows young college students Faith (Selena Gomez), Brittany (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), and Cotty (Rachel Korine, wife of director Harmony) as they travel to Florida to take part in yearly spring break activities. Before they set out on their trip however, they need to somehow earn money for the trip, so the four girls brutally rob a fast food restaurant. After being arrested at a party in Florida, the mysterious rapper Alien (James Franco) bails the young girls out of jail, and the five head back to the home of eccentric and charismatic, but rather cowardly, Alien. After the group slowly begins to drift apart, Alien and the remaining girls plan a raid on Alien’s rival drug-dealer, Big Arch (played by rapper Gucci Mane).
Spring Breakers certainly isn’t a film for most audiences. It’s incredibly raw and alive, bringing the viewer into its world of crime and debauchery, but the film never manages to feel shallow or excessive. Korine’s wonderful direction and cinematography perfectly brings to life the glossy, warm, and grimy world of Florida’s spring break celebrations, making it one of the greatest elements of the film. Harmony Korine’s pacing and direction throughout the film make this a truly unique viewing experience. The film is comparable to something like Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, but on ecstasy. It’s a world that is easy to immerse yourself in, and one that may even hypnotize the viewer in a lot of ways. Korine manages to say a little and a lot at the same time with his wonderful screenplay, never outright criticizing or praising its subjects. The film serves as both a subtle celebration and criticism of our youth, and its sometime morbid fascination with wild parties, experimenting with drugs and crime. Despite the subject matter at hand, Spring Breakers does present some hope throughout the film. Selena Gomez’s aptly named Faith serves as our “innocent” character, as does Rachel Korine’s Cotty in a smaller way. Spring Breakers features one of the most interesting and widely-debated screenplays of the year, and for good reason.
Aside from Korine’s wonderful direction, cinematography and screenplay, Spring Breakers features multiple incredible performances from its principal cast. Director Harmony Korine wisely casted former Disney screen-queens Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, and young actress Ashley Benson in incredibly brave roles. Gomez does a competent job as Faith, and Hudgens’ performance was one of my favorite things about the entire film. Hudgens has the unique skill of being able to play both completely innocent characters, and wild, party-going ones too. Her range is really displayed throughout the film. The highlight for critics and audiences worldwide is James Franco’s performance as Alien, the drug-dealing gangster rapper. Franco’s appearance and mannerisms are completely transformed for the role, and he puts in one of the greatest supporting performances of the decade. If James Franco isn’t at least considered for a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the end of the year, it will go down as one of the categories greatest snubs of all-time.
Spring Breakers is a hypnotizing, divisive film that not everybody will love or even understand. This isn’t a film that completely celebrates the live-for-the-weekend mentality or exploits its subjects. It’s a film of great complexity, and will likely be looked back as one of the most hotly-debated films of 2013. For my money, the best film of the year thus far. Spring break forever. 9.5/10.