It’s hard to work out where ‘Spring Breakers’ gets it so wrong. This is a film that seems to be a celebration of sex, drugs and dubstep music and comes from the pen of Harmony Korine who famously teamed up with the king of ‘confronting’ movies Larry Clarke on ‘Kids’ and ‘Ken Park’, but somewhere along the line Korine has forgotten the recipe of how to make a great film and instead delivered a film that almost resembled a video clip rather than a feature film.
Basically ‘Spring Breakers’ centres around four college girls – Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) who are desperate to escape the humdrum daily lives that they are living, so desperate in fact that much to the surprise of the religious Faith the other three decide to commit an armed robbery to make sure that they have enough cash to make the trip to Florida for Spring Break.
But Spring Break doesn’t exactly go the way they planned. While at first the four of them are having a massive amount of fun, it soon turns into a night in jail which then sees them come into contact with Alien (James Franco) a young gangster who makes a living out of selling drugs and has a love of big guns. While Faith doesn’t trust Alien the others quickly warm to him and soon find themselves mixed up with his gang war with his former friend, Archie (Gucci Mane).
Where Korine goes wrong with ‘Spring Breakers’ is that he forgets that the key to a good confronting film is that the film makes a strong point. At his best, Larry Clarke could make a film that fully confronted its audience, but at the same time make some strong points about teenage sex and drugs. With ‘Spring Breakers’ it almost feels like Korine sets out to glorify that world. It certainly never seems to show the characters suffering or learning for their wrongs.
Korine’s other big mistake in this film is to remove one of the most interesting characters midway through. Early on, the film is told through the eyes of Faith, but just when her clean-cut religion filled world is tested by the arrival of Alien, she is hastily removed and the audience never sees her again, as a result much of the suspense of the film is removed as well. But perhaps Korine’s biggest mistake is making the film seem like a video clip, but cutting the story at times in favor of loud music over montages that really distract the audience’s attention of the film at hand. If he hadn’t already have showed his worth with ‘Ken Park’ and ‘Kids’ an audience member could be forgiven for thinking that Korine just doesn’t understand the importance of storytelling when it comes to cinema.
It’s obvious that for some members of the cast ‘Spring Breakers’ is to be their breakout film. While they don’t partake in the nudity themselves, this is a film that is the perfect vehicle for Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez to break out of their ‘safe teenage film mold’ and announce themselves as stars ready to take on some more adult orientated films. Both do what they set out to do without exactly setting the world on fire. Also impressive are the less famous Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine who breeze into their roles easily, but the standout here is James Franco who is practically unrecognizable as Alien and it is his performance that carries most of the film.
If you’re expecting the magic that Larry Clarke managed to create with ‘Bully’ or ‘Ken Park’ to have rubbed off on ‘Spring Breakers,’ than think again. The film is better than its poster suggests, but it certainly lacks some of the key ingredients it takes to be a great film.