Directed by: Harmony Korine
Written by: Harmony Korine
Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, and James Franco
When I was a teenager, I remember watching the comedy Old School and thinking how awesome it would be to join a fraternity. So, by the time I was at the age to leave for college that was one of the first major decisions I made. Even though I do not regret these decisions, I exited the Greek life just as quickly as I joined it. I made great friends, went to incredible parties, but it came to a point where on a personal level I needed space to myself to discover who I was. What I found interesting though, was the impact pop-culture had on my decision to join a frat. Movies, music, and various forms of entertainment have a strange way of impacting our youth. Which brings me to the film Spring Breakers. On the surface, Spring Breakers flashes bikinis, sexy bods, guns, drugs, and, mayhem. However, beneath is a strange message about the nature of temptation and the representation of how we perceive what is “cool.”
The film focuses on Brit (Benson), Candy (Hudgens), Cotty (Korine), and Faith (Gomez), who are four college youths looking to escape reality by heading to Florida for Spring Break. All the girls have known each other since grade school and have a deep bond from childhood. However, it is clear Faith (Gomez) is less rebellious than her childhood friends. Realizing they do not have the funds to take their adventurous trip to Florida- Brit, Candy, and Cotty set out to acquire the money by any means necessary. After robbing a diner, the girls gear up for the best time of their life.
I heard people criticizing Gomez after my screening and I couldn’t help but laugh. Without Gomez’s sweetness within the story, the events in the film would be less shocking. Something about Gomez’s presence makes all the absurdity seem realistic. Faith is a good girl in a world full of sin. While all the girls are doing drugs and fooling around, Faith calls her Grandmom to say she misses her.
The other Disney girl, Vanessa Hudgens, is the complete opposite. If you thought Hudgens was a bad girl in Sucker Punch, guess again. Her character Candy says and does things in this movie that even made me squirm. My little sister grew up watching her on High School Musical, so in a way, it was like watching a younger sister I never had degrade herself on-screen. However, this is not a bad thing. The whole point is to make the viewer uncomfortable by forcing you to watch this happen.
Then there is the insane character Alien played by the magnificent James Franco. His sleazy portrayal of a white gangster rapper could quite possibly be a career high for the actor. Franco is like the serpent leading the innocent to bite the forbidden fruit. You can’t help but give in because like he says, “This is the American Dream.” Guns, drugs, and sex is what this country is all about, right?
One of the interesting qualities in Spring Breakers is how Korine & company decided to cut the film’s narrative. The editing style felt significantly similar to a Terrence Malick film, much like Tree of Life or The New World. However, the story is far less ambiguous than anything Malick has made. Each scenario is depicted out of sequence, with flashbacks and flash forwards, while we hear character’s thoughts and conversations play over the crazy images of partying. You hear them speaking to their parents about what they’ve been doing on Spring Break, while it shows what is actually taking place. This creates a dreamlike world to the story. The flow is frustrating at moments but it feels like you’re watching someone’s absurd fantasy.
The movie utilizes music in the most brilliant ways. Korine manages to make a Britney Spears song somewhat chilling. The song is called “Everytime,” and it gave me goosebumps during the entire sequence. I found the use of Skrillex during the intro somewhat ironic. Skrillex is an artist known for performing in wild party crowds, yet the music is used in such a manner to show the hypnotic sinful nature of Spring Break. Cliff Martinez actually collaborated with Skrillex to score the film which brings a pulse-pounding rhythm to the fantasy. Those who are unfamiliar with Cliff Martinez, he also composed music for Drive, which he did an incredible job with that film also.
Analyzing Spring Breakers at face value is an absolute mistake. It’s quite easy to skim the surface and say Spring Breakers is glorifying sex, drugs, and violence. Digging deeper is discoveries of society’s desire to crave bad behavior as a form of paradise. Especially with how far some individuals are willing to take these pleasures. It reminded me of a Lupe Fiasco album where he talks about “The Cool” which here are the lyrics below:
Above the others, my face with grace covers of the magazines
Of the hustlers, paper, the likes of which
That I had never seen, her eyes glow green
With the logo of our dreams, the purpose of our scene
A obscene obsession for the bling
She would be my queen, I could be her king, together
She would make me cool, and we would both rule, forever
There is a need inherited in today’s youth to seek out this behavior. When people attain it, they say it feels as if they are in a hypnotic dream state. Spring Breakers is an extreme representation of this idea taking over our culture. If you want to see a party film that will stick in your mind long after it’s over, then I highly recommend Spring Breakers.