Review: Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers - Credit: Archant

The American tradition of spring break the fittest hardbodies of American youth make their way to Florida to indulge in an orgy of hedonistic excess in their swimwear or less which is then disseminated around the world as a potent and intoxicating assertion of US cultural supremacy.

Previously the Girls Gone Wild film-makers who would roll up with their camcorders and entice them into greater sexual exhibitionism. Rather chillingly, they filed for bankruptcy this year (just how wrecked is our economy if camcorder pornographers can't make the margins work for them?) but stepping into the gap is Harmony Korine.

While GGW are exploitative chancers whose modus operandi was pointing their cameras at vulnerable and suggestible people (inebriated women) and getting them to demean themselves, Korine is an acclaimed, 'edgy' film provocateur whose modus operandi is pointing his camera at vulnerable and suggestible people (actors) and getting them to demean themselves.

The difference is primarily production values. It's beautifully filmed, slickly edited and has a lovely Cliff Martinez (Solaris, Drive) score. There is a plot but the edges has been smoothed down. So instead of the usually choppy narratives up and down, it all glides dreamily past as it if were a single, idle, erotic fantasy unfurling before us.

Four girls are stuck in a boring, cold northern college dreaming of escaping to Florida. In lectures on the civil right movement, they entertain themselves by drawing penises. When they finally make it south, their revelry takes a sinister turn when they meet up with rapper/gangster Alien, played with wigged-out fury by Franco, sporting Snoop Dogg braided hair.

It isn't exactly subtle. The sole religious character (Selena Gomez) is called Faith. Psyching themselves up to commit a crime, one of them utters the line 'Just imagine it's a videogame'.

Franco leaps around among his money and weapons gleefully shouting, 'Look at all my s***' and the sound of a gun being cocked is heard repeatedly on the soundtrack. But this is spring break – subtlety has no place here.

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This is a cautionary porno fantasy. It has boobs and bums and beer and bongs and bikinis and automatic weaponry and a despairing take on American culture. It leaves you feeling soiled, despairing and exhilarated.

The casting of two former Disney princesses, Gomez and Hudgens, is an inspired gimmick.

It shows that nobody is pure, everybody will be corrupted. The future is not a boot stamping down on a human face forever. It is a booty shake gangster rap video that embraces the whole world.


Director: Harmony Korine

Starring: Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine and James Franco

Length: 91 mins