Bonfire of the Vanities – ★★★★
Spring Breakers explodes onto our screens like a neon rainbow, full of boobs, bums and Britney Spears numbers. Harmony Korine is no stranger to controversy having penned Kids back in 1995, a tale concerning a HIV skateboarder embarking on a mission to take the virginity of as many girls as he can. This is his first feature since 2009’s Trash Humpers and it will certainly arouse the ire of many people.
The film opens with a long montage showcasing the various debaucheries that the youth of America get up to on Spring Break – and for any parent with young daughters this will seem like a horror movie. The camera lingers a tad too long on the half naked women, which becomes pretty tiresome at points but thankfully as the film progresses this is not as prevalent. Our four heroines Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) are sick and tired of being broke, unable to go to Spring Break with everyone else. They hatch a plan to rob the local chicken joint and when it goes off without a hitch they’re Florida bound.
Here all their dreams come true or at least what they think are their dreams. Dazzled by sun, sea and ripped men they become enveloped by the haze of free drugs, cheap booze and no adults. Until they get busted that is and reality hits them like a lightning bolt. Cue your friendly local “gangsta”, Alien a.k.a James Franco, who is almost unrecognisable. Having bailed them out he simply wants to show them a good time but as always if it sounds too good to be true, it is.The film sometimes looks like a music video, there is never a static shot and if a cut is longer than ten seconds it’s a novelty. A thumping summer soundtrack provided chiefly by Cliff Martinez (Drive) and Skrillex, the main anthem Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites will no doubt be making an appearance in many a club this summer if it isn’t already.
Korine constantly cuts back and forth returning to scenes or bringing in the audio first as the backdrop to another scene before matching them up. This creates a brainwashing effect at times as Franco constantly proclaims off-screen “Spring Break, Spring Break, Spring Break forever” and also as he inventories his money, guns and cologne to the girls while shouting “look at all ma shit”.
Franco is astounding in his performance as the gangsta rapper Alien with silver platted teeth, dollar plated hubcaps and an ivory coloured piano overlooking the ocean. Candy backs out pretty fast as she fears for the worst by hanging out with such nefarious people. It’s really only Candy and Brit who are steadfast in the resolve and prepared to see it through to the end. There could be talk of exploitation but in one scene involving a gun it’s clear to see that it’s really Brit and Candy who own Franco and not the other way around.
The film will no doubt cause consternation among people for the depiction of America’s youth and females but this is a real issue in America and a regular occurrence. What do people expect young, thin, beautiful people with easy money, cheap drink and sun with no adults around to do? Play snap?
The film is incredibly funny with one montage playing alongside a Britney Spears song being the funniest segment in a film for a long time. It isn’t one big PR spin for Spring Break, if anything it shows the problem with American society and how its misguided youth is obsessed with easy money and a free ride, but we see the consequence and ultimately you probably don’t want what you wished for.
People might have a tendency to dismiss or be a bit sniffy about Spring Breakers especially with four female leads and to call it a female version of The Hangover is an insult. It isn’t nearly as shallow as it seems and as Cyndi Lauper sang “Girls just want to have fun”, and what the hell is wrong with that?
US / Directed By: Harmony Korine / Written By: Harmony Korine / Starring: James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine / 94min / Comedy, Crime, Drama / Release: 5 April 2013 (Ireland, UK), 22 March 2013 (USA, Canada)