July 15, 2013

Spring Breakers

Harmony Korine, 2013

Harmony Korine (Trash Humpers, Gummo, Mister Lonely) directs this raunchy crime drama about a group of girls (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine) who take desperate measures to travel to Florida to celebrate their spring break from college. When they arrive, similar measures continue when they encounter local drug thug Alien (James Franco).

Korine is no stranger to filming provocative subject matter, and he certainly provides some disturbing imagery here. The opening segment of the film is an array of drunken frat boys, bare boobs and beer bongs. The opening sequence, shot in slow motion, is an obvious examination of the crude behavior of America's youth. This examination is very much similar to the analysis of the deplorable behavior of teens in Kids (written by Korine). The obvious difference is that in Breakers Korine doesn't bother to observe much more than their hard-partying and drunken impulses. They are obnoxious, another villain in the film.

The actual story begins when following the group of girls trying to scrounge up the money to make the trip down to Florida. They look at this trip as if its going to be some kind of defining journey, one that will change their lives. Their innocence is evident, but overshadowed by their disgusting obsession with American materialism and pop culture. This obsession would continue to be examined for the remainder of the film.

James Franco delivers a noteworthy performance, probably the most chameleonic of his career as Alien. Alien is Korine's fictional Joe Francis, an impulse-driven manipulator preying on young women like a corn-rowed Vulture. He seeks them out when they are vulnerable, and goes in for the kill. His limited rants make him seem like Samuel L. Jackson's character Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction if he had dropped out of high school his freshman year. He takes pride in his material possessions, which are an obvious byproduct of the drug sales. His "Look at my sheeeit" rant is still echoing in my mind along with him whispering "Spring Breaaakkk" sort of like the "If you build it they will come" cornfield whisper in Field of Dreams. He has his wall of weapons, his Scarface on repeat.

Franco's character is certainly the highlight of the film. The other highlight of the film is Korine's use of color and sound. It's a very nice looking film, with a very applicable soundtrack. The duality of Dubstep to the slow-motion drunk-fest certainly makes an impact. Definitely style over substance, but the lack of depth in the story department certainly leaves much to be desired. While Franco's performance is very memorable, it isn't enough to carry it all. I personally saw Kids around the time it was released. I was young, probably 14 or 15. There are elements in that film, some imagery that still haunts me to this day. That was one of the first dark films I saw at a young age. It's probably why I gravitated to the more disturbing films later on in life - because of that profound impact that they can have, whether good or bad. Harmony Korine clearly had a lot to say back then. With Spring Breakers, he obviously has a lot to SHOW - I just wish he had more to say.

1 comment:

  1. I never made it to where they got arrested. I couldn't take the phone calls to gramma.