The real question to ask is whether Spring Breakers is even a movie in the conventional sense. And the answer is, not really.
It is an extended music video, and a cautionary tale. And what we are being cautioned against, is watching something based on its advertising.
Director Harmony Korine has been peripherally L’enfant terrible of cinema for so long most people have forgotten that he isn’t really a child anymore and his work isn’t really that terrible—not in the way you might think.
Building a motion picture around four nubile young things who wear little more than Day-Glo bikinis for most of this movie’s runtime while doing ‘bad’ things might seem like a badass move. It’s not.
Precious little about this movie actually is badass.
That super-saturated colour scheme gets my vote. As does the set design that aids that super-saturated colour scheme. But when a 94-minute movie has to rely on (dull, on-the-nose, eventually boring) repetition to fill those minutes somebody has to blame somebody else for not turning up on set with a real script.
I know directors like Gaspar Noé have actually made watchable movies without conventional scripts but that doesn’t excuse what happens for most of Spring Breakers.
Let me sum it up for you: four borderline sociopathic college girls Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine – she’s the director’s wife) are determined to get to spring break, by any means necessary. Which means three of them decide to rob a restaurant.
The way this scene was staged was pretty cool (so that’s another thing in the positives column).
So the girls get to go on their vacation and it is everything they imagined it would be, because their imagination did not extend beyond getting drunk, doing drugs, and making out with strangers.
Next thing they know, prison is calling. And they are bailed out by a weird rapper/gangster named Alien (James Franco) who introduces the girls to his lifestyle, and trades insults with his friend-turned-foe Archie (Gucci Mane). Some violence and lascivious behaviour ensues. The End.
It is really hard to discuss performances in a movie like this because the only actors that were given any real work to do were Gomez and Franco. The latter played his part as OTT as ever, and it grated very quickly. The former has a disturbing child-woman air that doesn’t make for easy watching.
I was only able to stay the course with this movie because of cinematographer Benoît Debie’s lensing. Spring Breakers looks like a vivid waking nightmare. And it doesn’t matter whether they were daytime or nighttime shots, he managed to make that image pop like a firecracker.
Final Analysis: If you are seduced by the trailers, know this: that’s all there is to the movie. With a little bit of gratuitous nudity thrown in to justify that R rating. There’s no story here. Not that much style either.
My Advice: Rent Kids again. Disturbing though it was, that movie still told some kind of story. And the memory of some of those performances still gives me a chill.