s p r i n g b r e a k e r s
5th April 2013
5th April 2013
IT'S SPRING BREAK BITCHES! In England it's widely known that we don't 'do' Spring Break. We 'do' Easter where we give each other eggs and maybe go to the pub for a few pints. We most certainly do not drink beer from a plastic babydoll's vagina and do lines off hot girls' tits. But they do in the US or certainly in writer/director Harmony Korine's version which I have a sinking feeling is not very far from the truth.
At a nondescript school somewhere in middle America, Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Faith (Selena Gomez) Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) are bored. Tired of seeing the same things every single day. Desperate to go away for some Spring Break fun, only one thing is stopping them – they've only got $320 between them. What's a girl to do? Faith prays to Jesus with her cultish religious group and says she has another $20 in her purse. The other three take a slightly more hands on approach and hold up a chicken shop with hammers and a toy gun. Faith struggles with this slightly when she finds out but not enough to ruin her spring break and off they cartwheel to the sunshine and all things Spring Break. Things start to take on a different tone when the girls are arrested and bailed out by local 'gangsta' and drug dealer Alien (James Franco) and his creepy twin sidekicks (ALT) and the colours get a little darker in hue.
Harmony Korine's latest offering is a candy coloured cornucopia. It's a visual assault with a paintball gun – not necessarily a bad thing just one I probably won't repeat. Korine's inspired casting of Disney princesses Gomez and Hudgens means it will most definitely be his widest viewed movie to date and will probably have a much more varied audience. I don't think a huge amount of people had Trash Humpers showing in their local Vue. It's an interesting thing that Korine has created here. I say thing because I'm not sure it entirely feels like a movie, more of a moving art project. Early scenes of the school and it's surrounds, the calm before the storm are beautiful, like ethereal Americana postcards. Snapshots. Then we move into Spring Break territory and it's shot like a porno Abercrombie and Fitch. Overlong scenes where the camera lingers on flesh. Everyone is young, tanned, beautiful and rich. Perfect teeth. Perfect bodies. A sharp contrast with their animalistic behaviour.
Spring Breakers is a tripped out experience. Sound is looped, scenes are played out over and again from different angles. Korine's script is fairly minimal and the dialogue is, to be frank, ridiculous. The girls say nothing of any value or use at all and don't have one real conversation in the whole film. When we first see the chicken shop robbery it's from Cotty's point of view as the getaway driver. Music pumping, slo-mo, it looks like a video game. It looks silly. Korine re runs this for us later but now inside the shop where the girls are smashing things with hammers and terrorising the customers. It is now a terrifying scene that makes us a little afraid for the enjoyment these girls have taken from this. Very Natural Born Killers and, unfortunately, very American. Korine uses one side of a phone call Faith has with her Grandma extolling the virtues of her spring break. All the nice people they’ve met, how she is having such a wonderful time, this is juxtaposed with the out and out debauchery that's going on around her, obvious but effective. Snippets from this phone call are used over and over again throughout the film. These kind of devices give the movie a dreamlike quality. The repetition coupled with the banging music of Skillrex and Cliff Martinez is both hypnotic and exhilarating.
Despite the hype, all four girls are fantastic casting but Gomez and Korine were the stand outs for me. Gomez's character really doesn't have that much to do but her scenes with Franco were some of the best. Korine has a a gravitational presence, I was immediately drawn to her whenever she was on the screen, even when she was in a line with 100 other girls. It's been widely reported how good Franco is in this movie and I'm not about to burst that bubble. He is great and still manages to be sexy somehow through cornrows and grills on his teeth. He espouses verse and drawls 'spring break' which Korine repeats periodically again adding to the dreamlike state. One of my favourite scenes has Alien getting over excited about all of his 'stuff' whilst the girls look on adoringly. Another lasting moment is three of the girls in swimsuits, pink balaclavas and shotguns surrounding Alien who is playing a Britney Spears song on a white grand piano by the swimming pool. Well now I never thought I'd write that sentence.
The moral compass of this film is all over the place. Korine presents contradictory and conflicting images over and over again and stands back whilst we make our minds up. Gomez's religious good girl student is more terrified and out of place in a pool hall with black men then she is watching two girls have sex on the floor goaded by whacked out jocks and party girls in bikinis. There aren't any serious repercussions for any of the girls for any of their actions. As the film spirals into darker territory, namely Alien's very real and dangerous feud with fellow dealer Archie (Gucci Mane) the remaining girls just wade on in deeper.
So just what is Korine saying about women as a whole this film? As with all the other ideas in Spring Breakers that is entirely up to the viewer. Korine is careful to present the message that he isn't giving any messages. However, even though the girls aren't wearing much they are all strong characters who do exactly what they want. Even the weakest, Faith, controls her own destiny. These girls are on top.