Sunday 7 April 2013

Review: Spring Breakers

Year: 2013
Director: Harmony Korine
Screenplay: Harmony Korine
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Rachal Corine, Ashley Benson, James Franco

Synopsis is here

It's been a while since I left a cinema screen with pretty much every other viewer hating what they had just seen. I had to laugh as considering the film, it was almost an inevitable. Harmony Korine's arthouse, wannabe B movie didn't leave me so angry. Nor did I leave it feeling the opposite. Spring Breakers' shallow mixture of greasy glam and titillation left me lackadaisically indifferent. I feel this is far worse than some of the exuberant glee I've read or venomous hate I saw, because those feelings would be considered "the point" by the cool kids. Like I've hinted at before in this blog, I was never a cool kid so all you'll get here is shrugs.

From the start it seemed that the poor audience were set up for a fall. The trailers before the film were Scary Movie 5 and The Hangover: Part 3. The T.V spots and trailers give off a glimmering vision of neon, adolescent heaven, where every day is dubstep and boobs. Everything seemed to be trying to attract a certain type of audience expecting a certain type of movie. Korine isn't really interested in the gloss, although it does feature quite heavily. Spring Breakers appears to be more of a skewed, grubby version of The American Dream as seen by a girl group raised on slick surface and MTV.

Despite its gaudy dress up, Korine provides some interesting ideas.Themes of black masculinity and hedonism as religion creep up on you. Meanwhile; the film's imagery highlights the director’s love for the abstract and poetic. Dialogue and visuals are juxtaposed and repeated at different points providing a near cycular effect. These girls are bored of doing drugs and handstands in their dorms but feel that the change of venue provides a new philosophical bent on their snorting and amateur gymnastics. These circles ripple we see not only the small microcosm of the girls but of the violence they experience and the culture they wish to embrace. Spring Break is represented as a never-ending pulsing haven in which the beer never stops flowing and girl on girl action is always round the corner.

However, while the Skrillex and Clint Mansell soundtrack (remember the drum and bass in Pi?) do their best to keep the tone and energy up, Spring Breaker becomes fidgety, frustrating and over involved in its own importance. It's clear that Korine is having a massive joke about certain genre conventions and ideas but he doesn't seem bothered in his audience’s engagement. Don't expect much from the cyphers that are considered characters here. Much has been said about Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez departure from their Disney roots, but Korine is more interested that the actors are who they are than placing any effort to make the roles they play stand out for any other reason. James Franco's Alien, strangely reminds me of Heath Ledger's turn in Lord of Dogtown, but unlike Ledger, I felt Franco does fully lose himself in the role. Squint a bit, and he's still James. 

An indulgent and fussy piece which mixes the divine (the girls doing ring around the roses with shotguns is an unbelievable image) with the tedious, Spring Breakers like Korine's earlier Gummo brings an honest and different look to typical proceedings. Unfortunately much like the head bending pieces of the likes of Lynch or even the aggressive manoeuvres Korine's own idol Herzog, the film does little to reach any emotional height. I don't feel that the film is "gash" or "shit", like I heard everyone else exclaim amongst leaving the theatre. The problem is I can't see me watching the film again to see if it's anything else.