The Film Rant: Spring Breakers
A shallow, simplistic and monotonous take on American excess and ‘girls gone wild’, Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers is an almost plotless art house film masquerading as the mainstream, following a group of girls (including former teen stars Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez) who quite literally go wild at Spring Break; dancing, drinking and snorting drugs, all whilst wearing obnoxious luminous bikinis, the four girls find themselves arrested, only to be bailed by cornrowed rapper Alien (James Franco). Soon, the group gets deeper into the world of crime, leading to a violent showdown with a rival gang.
If any of the above plot sounds A) watchable or B) interesting, I’ve clearly done a better job of describing the narrative than Korine, for Spring Breakers is the most boring film I can remember watching in a while. I understand that Korine is showing the dull, repetitive nature of the partying lifestyle with the same endless shots of beach parties and scantily clad girls, but that doesn’t mean it’s at all interesting or unique to watch.
The entire film feels too obvious and smug, as if Korine feels Spring Breakers is deeper than it is (in reality, Spring Breakers has the depth of its main characters); for example, two mirror image shots of different girls taking the same journey home could potentially be an interesting reflection on how none of the girls are really enjoying themselves, if it wasn’t so incredibly blatant. While clearly Korine did have an idea and a meaning for Spring Breakers, the film just feels too juvenile, and ultimately, pointless.
None of the four female leads give particularly standout characters, mostly due to their lack of distinguishable characters, although Gomez is pretty solid as a church going girl struggling to remain faithful to her religion, but James Franco does do a surprisingly brilliant job as the obnoxious Alien. His character is deliberately irritating and perhaps the king of excess; it’s no coincidence that the girls take him on as some kind of leader. Sadly, despite his character injecting vague interest in the film, he doesn’t really kick the film into a higher gear; instead, it seems content to keep showing the same repetive party scenes over and over again. That isn’t to say individual scenes don’t work, however; a bizarre musical number in which Alien and the girls sing a Britney Spears number at the piano is surreally fun, whilst an early diner robbery is stylishly set from the perspective of the outside getaway vehicle. Sadly, as well done as these scenes are, they work better on their own, rather than surrounded by the rest of Spring Breakers.
Despite some interesting visual tics and the odd intriguing scene, Spring Breakers is ultimately a hollow, irritatingly vapid film with no real direction, narrative or meaning. Korine clearly has some decent ideas and at least tries to give some kind of meaning to his film, but that doesn’t stop Spring Breakers being a mostly tedious experience.
By Harry Ford