Spring Breakers opens with something of an overture. Against a perfect sky, hot bodies and bare breasts bathed in beer jump up and down along the shoreline. Thick dubstep blares on the soundtrack. It’s celebratory and as close to heaven as any vacationing college kid is likely to get. But heaven has a flipside, and director Harmony Korine has never been one to look away from the gritty.
Riding deafening hype, Spring Breakers arrives with a built-in ad campaign: come watch as the guy who wrote Kids defiles a bunch of Disney princesses with the help of James Franco. And everything about this movie, from the skimpy neon bikinis to the copious amounts of drugs and guns, screams illicit thrill. It would be one thing if Spring Breakers were only interested in titillation, but there’s a brain at work inside this beautiful body, even if it does tend to fixate on our most basic instincts.
The plot is simple: Four college girlfriends plan to head for sunny St. Petersburg, Florida in search of fun and adventure. Despite being broke, three of the girls decide on an interesting way to raise traveling money: they rob a diner. “Pretend it’s a video game,” coos Brit (Ashley Benson) as a way of getting Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) to go along with the plan. Faith (Selena Gomez) is too busy with prayer group to participate in the theft, but she’s more than happy to ride the bus south with her gal pals.
Once in St. Pete the girls do what spring breakers do: drink, rent mopeds, go to parties, hit the pool, and hang out with drunk boys looking to separate them from their bathing suits. The cops bust one wild hotel party the girls are at and they all get arrested and thrown in the county lockup. At their day in court, the judge lets them off with a fine, which is in turn paid by a local rapper/drug dealer named Alien (James Franco). Does Alien just see these babes in the Florida woods as easy targets? Could it really be love? And has he maybe bitten off more than he can chew?
As her religious name suggests, Faith freaks out as soon as shit starts getting real and grabs the next available bus back to school. (Local color alert: The Sunshine Skyway serves symbolically as The Gates of Hell, with Gomez’s character staring out the window at the iconic yellow “sail” as she hightails it out of town.) The remaining three ladies become something like Alien’s Angels, obsessed with the size of his gun collection and the piles of money he leaves around as decoration.
Alien is an amazing character, a white kid raised entirely among blacks and hiding behind cornrows and metal teeth. Franco plays him as something of a fake tough guy, reveling in the trappings of the gangsta life, but in way over his head. Alien has run afoul of the local kingpin, who also happens to be his ex-best friend. The threat of violence is ever-present, and the next drive-by shooting could be his last.
Spring Breakers is a dark and twisted funhouse mirror held up to the American dream. Though sex is everywhere, the leads have surprisingly little. The second half of the film treads into fantasy territory (or is it all just an hallucination brought on by the epic amount of weed smoking?), and the climax is as audacious as it is absurd. That said, the movie is also tense, exciting and fun, loaded with brilliant shots, great scenes and four iconic bikinis.
Though the girls are all good (I’ve got Ashley Benson as the breakout star), Spring Breakers belongs to Franco, who delivers a rich, nuanced performance as Alien, and Korine, who has matured as a director into a real artist, one who has found a way to mix his underground sensibilities with a film mainstream audiences can and will enjoy. I expect that it will be an enormous hit. Spring Breakers is dark, sexy, funny, stoned out of its mind and full of shit. It’s also the best movie I've seen so far in 2013.
After seeing the "new Superman" I thought it was alright but, I kind of hoped…
Gerwig is so awesome all-around. Would love to give her hugs and be friends. :)
Check out the lead on the Drudge Report!
Cant wait to watch it!