A wild coming-of-age tale, which follows four teenage girls on a spring break trip, escaping their mundane lives for ‘fun in the sun’. Less good girls gone bad, and more bad girls gone worse as a calculated fast food restaurant robbery helps fund the journey to Florida where they meet metal mouthed gangster rapper Alien, strangely played by usual nice guy James Franco. With bold imagery and continuing contradictions throughout a muddled, drug fuelled story, ‘Spring Breakers’ is like nothing else you will see on the big screen all year.
Visually, this film is impeccable, scenes coated in a sweet candy floss gloss, brilliantly clashing with the gruesome subject matter. Like the promotional posters, fluorescent colouring assists in attention grabbing, the party montages play like a Disney porno, distorting expectations and shattering illusions, though by the end, the repetition becomes seedy, lacking the initial impact of the opening sequence. You have to question the morals of the 40 year old director Harmony Korine slightly, with full frontal nudity and bikini shots used very loosely, though his wife does co-star as Cotty. As plots go, not a lot happens here, and there is a dip in the story midway through, which actually becomes a little boring and with Franco’s Alien creepily repeating ‘look at my shit’, and ‘spring break’, and uttering the words ‘Scarface on repeat!’, the script could’ve been written by a ten year old who’s just learnt his first swear words, experiencing his first dirty rag. Though the dialogue doesn’t have to be tip top when the aesthetics are so pleasing on the eye, especially in stand out scene, juxtaposing Alien on piano, crooning to Britney Spears’ ‘Everytime’ whilst his girls rock bikinis and balaclavas, sexually toying with his arsenal.
James Franco is a strange choice to play power hungry ego-maniacal Alien. A double bill Franco weekend combining this with ‘Oz’ would certainly show you both sides of his coin. He is obviously enjoying himself, talking the talk, but it is difficult to take him seriously in a villainous role, except in his shades-on scenes where he is near unrecognisable. The casting is clever all over, with High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens as Candy, who I thought was the best of the four, shaking off preconceptions and delivering immensely. Child star Selena Gomez is also very good, as the religious ‘sensible one’, shying away from the criminal antics of her peers, though still allowing herself to be led astray.
It will be criticised and will no doubt garner complaints, with teen idols portrayed in an entirely different way, earning the 18 certificate, but as a piece of filmmaking, it is refreshing cinema. The opening segment establishes the girls well, making what is to come all the more shocking. The phonecalls home to parents extenuate this theme, following through on the contradiction. The cast handle themselves well in a plot which seems to have taken as much illegal substances as the characters, and for a film that does sadly lack substance, it certainly has a hell of a lot of style.
See the trailer: