Spring Breakers: A Genuinely Provocative Movie

Harmony Korine shows how bikinis and crime takes pride in hedonistic weirdness.

18 years after writing the groundbreaking film Kids, Korine still has his pulse on what’s affecting our youth. Korine’s new film, Spring Breakers has already made a bigger splash and represents a rare potential intersection between the experimental art film and the multiplex. But it remains to be seen if fans of former Disney cuties starlets Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson will be thrilled or scandalized by what they see. Like Kids, Spring Breakers suggests that young people behave very differently among their peers than they do with adults.

The film begins with images of spring break on the Florida coast, little more than slow-motion bare breasts, beer bonging and suggestive popsicle sucking. Women are objects and men use them as a pleasure. This pornographic sequence isn’t just a fantasy contrived by Korine, it’s a hyper-real presentation meant to reflect the reality that takes place each and every year on spring break.

But later on the sequence turned into contrast reality with the sweet and innocent Faith (Selena Gomez) participating in church worship, introducing us to the exact opposite of the spring break landscape. Faith’s best friends at college, Britt (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) and Cotty (Rachel Korine, Director’s wife) are nothing like her church friends — this trio is willing to rob a local restaurant with a fake gun so the four can use that money to go on this coveted spring break vacation. They treat the robbery like “it’s a video game,” another statement pointing a finger at how absentmindedly youth absorb and inflict violence in America.

Matters take a further swerve into the rough when the girls are first busted by the cops and then bailed out by Alien (James Franco), a jittery drug-dealer with extravagant corn-rows, silver teeth and a tattooed tear-drop below one eye. Alien seduced them with loaded drugs, cash and weapons, and the girls (except Faith, who leaves early) are attracted to his loot and dangerous attitude. This is the moment where Disney cuties turned into Scarface’s angels, when Alien gets into a turf war with a rival drug dealer (played by rapper Gucci Mane), the ladies are excited to go along for the bloody ride.

The two best scenes take place in Alien’s bed room. In one Franco’s character shows off his cash and guns, another Brit and Candy grab one of those guns and force Franco to perform mock oral sex on the muzzle. The scene perfectly encapsulates the perverse mixture of childish innocence and excess that interests Korine and which makes Spring Breakers something more than a subversive stunt — an authentically cracked expression of the crazy, conflicting signals bombarding today’s teenagers.

Full credit to Korine, who sustains this act of creative vandalism right through to the finish. Spring Breakers unfolds as a fever dream of teenage kicks. It’s beautifully shot, well directed, and has great cast performances, especially for James Franco chameleon appearance.

At the end this movie is part plodding psychedelic video-scape, part anarchic vision of American despair. It’s an out-of-balance story of four girl’s adventures, which begin badly and end brutally. It’s a mix between Terrance Malick moody video and Cliff martinez and Skrillex savagery music. It’s heavenly and diabolic, euphoric and wasteful but most of all, is intense, fun and genuinely provocative. (Teuku Ajie)

Spring Breakers gets a limited release right around actual spring break, on March 22 and set to be released in the UK on April 5, 2013. Watch the International Red Band Trailer below:

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