Harmony Korine’s latest shock-tastic production is his most mainstream yet, and tackles the issues of ‘Spring Break’, an American holiday for college students to go and get pissed up and cause havoc, something the main quartet of characters in ‘Spring Breakers’, do, and do well. The film, however, is a mixed bag. One part music video, one part a tale of troubled souls, a lot of its messages are mixed, and sub-plots dropped at times. The overall feeling afterwards is strange, it’s not a bad film, just not all that great, especially given the excessive hype it has received on both sides of the Atlantic.
One of the things it does right is with the casting. With the likes of Selena Gomez and Vannessa Hudgens, both of Disney Channel fame, you’re never going to get Oscar-winning performances, not that the film is anywhere near that gaining recognition for that. The juxtaposition of having two stars more popular for the child-acting roles behave in such a sexually alluring style, like in ‘Spring Breakers’, is interesting. Neither are particularly bad in their roles, and the other two members of the girl’s gang, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine, wife of the director, are similar, but none of the quarter stand out as good actresses, they’re playing set roles here and do the job required. The only character who has an attempt at being fleshed out is Gomez’s, and even then her Christian background is just shown BEFORE they head down to Florida, and is never really picked up again.
Any plot is very, very thin to say the least. Dialogue is shunned for an explosive electronic soundtrack, with the likes of Skrillex accompanying many provocative scenes of students having a laugh, be it naked or barely clothed. The first half of the film is full of shots like these, they’re almost gratuitous in their nature, and serve as nothing other than an extended music video for Korine to show his style off. There’s a notable difference in interest when James Franco appears on-screen.
Franco, right now, is one of the best actors on the planet, for me. He’s becoming a bit of a Johnny Depp type character actor who can morph into any role, shape or size with ease. With ‘Spring Breakers’, coming off the back of his biggest hit to date, ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’, Franco can look to more success in the future, as mainstream audiences come to realise just who he is. His ‘Alien’ role in this film, is a good tasty one. He chews up the scenery as a scumbag of a man, who takes the girls under his wing, bailing them out from jail and opening their eyes to the crime world he is heavily involved in. The plot accelerates, and the film has a star it can revolve around, with Franco at its centre.
Throughout though, with whispers of ‘Spring Break’, and the sound of gunfire at the end of seemingly almost every scene, the whole thing feels like a dream sequence. The madness of Spring Break, the antics that go on and the transformation of the girls into very different creatures from as they began, you do tend to wonder just what is going on! The incredulity of it all culminates in the climatic showdown, which is almost laughable, if you are not engrossed in it at the time. Fortunately, I was, but a couple of my friends, weren’t so, but then that just shows what a divisive film it can be.
So, overall then, I’m glad I saw ‘Spring Breakers’, for some it may develop into a bit of a cult classic, for others they will despise the lack of plot and seemingly pointless outcome. I’m somewhere inbetween. At times it worked for me, Franco was a revelation, but the lack of plot and music video nature of it, means I won’t be rushing to see it for a second time.