Release Date: 5th April 2013
Director: Harmony Korine
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, James Franco.
Picture the scene: Terence Malick stands in a picturesque corn field; the wind gently stirs his hair and his shirt billows in the breeze. He whispers something slightly inaudible, the light of the sun only just visible through the leaves of a nearby tree. Then, out of no-where, Harmony Korine appears accompanied by obnoxiously loud dubstep, takes a shit, screams directly into Malick’s face, and then leaves. If you can imagine that at all then you’re halfway towards picturing Spring Breakers; one of the most gleefully defiant films in recent memory, and immensely enjoyable to boot. Spring Break Y’all!
For a film that features about 1,000 pairs of breasts, excessive drug consumption and James Franco as an outrageous gang banger, this is actually Harmony Korine’s most accessible work to date. Considering his previous effort Trash Humpers featured a bunch of geriatric hooligans imitating sexual intercourse with inanimate objects, that’s hardly surprising. Still, there’s something extremely appealing about Korine; the fact that he’s not conventional in almost any sense is surely something to at least respect. His films are as much a triumphant ‘fuck you’ to the independent scene that they sprung from as they are to any kind of mainstream. Thus any and all criticism about the lack of plot or character growth in Spring Breakers are almost entirely defunct: those familiar with his previous efforts will know that this is hardly Korine’s priority, and indeed his appeal often lies within the absence of such aspects.
It has already drawn a heavy amount of criticism from audiences and critics alike; simply too mental for some, while others are accusing it of re-affirming rape culture by overly sexualising young girls. What some have failed to pick up on, however, is that Spring Breakers directly addresses this culture and exposes it in all it’s hideous vulgarity. The constant display of naked bodies, obnoxiously bright colours and pounding dubstep is a constant assault on the senses, and is occasionally juxtaposed with grainy VHS footage and hilariously ironic dialogue. ‘I’ve met some great people who’ve changed my life forever’ says Selena Gomez’s voiceover, as the screen consistently displays various orgiastic acts of extreme depravity.
Although they are paper thin, Korine clearly sympathises with his characters, as he does with so many of the dejected youth he portrays in all his work. From Kids, to Gummo, to Julien Donkey Boy; they are all victims of a society dominated by images of perfection perpetuated by advertising and popular culture. In response, Korine finds a kind of perfection and beauty in the every day and the grotesque ,and it’s the imagery that continues to be the most striking element of his work; fleeting moments that’ll stay with you for a long while after the credits have rolled.
A bullet to the head of popular culture, Spring Breakers provides a nightmarish vision of contemporary America, where the American dream has become an extremely banal exercise in crime and self destruction. Love it or loathe it, there’s nothing else out there with the stones to communicate this issue with such a refreshing directness. Essential viewing whatever you make of it.