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USA 2012
Directed by
Harmony Korine
94 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Spring Breakers

Synopsis: 4 college girls  (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens,  Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine) head down to Florida for the annual spring break. Things get out of hand and they find themselves in the debt of gangsta rapper and drug dealer, Alien (James Franco)

Spring Breakers is like a feature length Coca Cola ad fueled by real coke, a kind of Clueless-meets-Scarface portrait of the American Dream in the new millennium.

The film opens with an extended sequence of raunchy, bikini-clad young women and photogenic dudes engaging in wild beach partying but anyone, perhaps seduced by the title, who has bought a ticket thinking that they are in for a slice of typical college-kids-behaving -badly fun is in for a big disappointment.

Instead, writer-director Harmony Korine (he wrote the thematically related Kids) serves up a distaff vision of American youth culture as direly mired in a brainlessly immoral pursuit of pleasure as a way of escape from a society that can offer them nothing better. From its ironically sun-drenched opening Korine develops the darker underbelly of the story until, like the girl’s self-appointed  protector, Alien, it becomes an all-consuming force of destruction.

Directorially, Korine with the assistance of his cinematographer Benoit Debie and sound department makes good use of his formal means to depict the derangement of the girls’ world although I found that his approach of repeating lines of dialogue and series of shots to show the interweaving of cause and effect is over-used. 

Much of the publicity for the film has emphasized the participation of three former teenage stars, Gomez, Hudgens, and Benson (the director’s wife Rachel Korine has little acting experience) and whilst this is clever casting the characters of the girls are only broadly drawn and they bring little other than their nubile bodies and their identities as teen starlets to the proceedings.  James Franco on the other hand gives a brilliant performance and if you’re a fan, his turn here is a must-see.

More allegorical than realistic, Spring Breakers struggles to justify its relatively short running time, its ending too callow to effectively resolve the slow-burning journey that we have been taken on. Even so, and perhaps more as a symptom of contemporary American society than for itself, this is a film worth catching.





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