Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Breakers

Review by Marcie Gainer

Well, Harmony Korine is at again only this time he’s moved from one cinematic extreme to another. In contrast to the brash, VHS filming of TRASH HUMPERS, SPRING BREAKERS is a tour-de-force of vibrancy and hyper-stylized cinematography. The dreamy narration and constant non-linear editing seems a throwback to his GUMMO days – only the raw grit and dirtiness is replaced with saturated colors and beautiful people; both films being equally repulsive and compelling.

Four college girls from a small Southern town, Faith (Selena Gomez), Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) and Cotty (Rachel Korine), have dreams of going to Florida for spring break. Lack of cash forces Brit, Candy and Cotty to rob a restaurant. Everything goes off without a hitch and the four girls head to Florida. Gyrating, beer soaked, coked up bodies abound and the girls find themselves having the time of their lives. That is, until they get arrested for their excessive partying and drug use.

This is where Alien (James Franco), a drug-lord of (self-imposed?) superstar status steps in. He bails the girls out of jail and, as he had hoped, they become mesmerized with his money and status. Together they rob other spring breakers and live the high life. Eventually things hit the fan when Alien’s rival/former best friend decides to play hardball.

I can imagine that SPRING BREAKERS, like all of Korine’s films, is going to polarize audiences. It’s pretty obvious that his choice of former Disney stars – Gomez and Hudgens - was no mistake. So, what exactly is he trying to say with this film? The satirization of spring break and those who partake in such intense partying was obvious, but the racial undercurrent compounded matters. The cardboard caricatures of drug-lords, gangsters, and partying college kids place the film in an interesting discussion of race, gender, youth and drug culture.

I always find Korine to be somewhat of a cynic, portraying subcultures in a nihilistic light. His characters try to give meaning to their lives but Korine ultimately proves that these forced interpretations are arbitrary. The same can be said of SPRING BREAKERS. The girls are trying “to find themselves,” to see and experience something new. They do but it ultimately leads to a disappointing and unsatisfying end.

If you’re a true Korine fan, you’ve probably been waiting to see this movie for a while now. The idea that Korine has finally sold out isn’t true. I doubt SPRING BREAKERS will elevate him to mainstream status. If it does, it doesn’t matter because he’s still dealing with the same themes and the same cynicism. Overall, it’s still the Harmony we love and know, only with brighter colors and a mainstream cast. 3 out of 4 Stars.

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