In Harmony Korine’s latest offering four college girls (Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine) rob a café to fund their spring break jaunt to Florida, where they immerse themselves in a never ending drink and drug fuelled party; hooking up with a sleazy gangster, Alien (James Franco), along the way.
Spring Breakers plays like one long music video, where the women exist solely in bikinis while the guys pour beer down the girls’ throats and snort cocaine off their bare bodies. The film is saturated in neon candy hues, resulting in a hallucinatory quality. This dream-like state is further emphasised by the non-linear narrative, the film’s on screen images and its dialogue rarely share the same space; instead making use of repetitive voice-over’s to deliver the character’s thoughts. Prior to committing the robbery, Benson says to her friend: ‘Pretend like it’s a video game; act like you’re in a movie’, offering a moment of self-reflexivity from Korine as the film is stylistically similar to said games.
However, self-awareness does not always equal good, and despite its arty production values, Spring Breakers is devoid of any real meaning. The female leads are cardboard characters that are given nothing to do save strutting around semi-clothed, which is itself problematic due to the oddly infantilised nature of the teens coupled with the way they are presented as hyper-sexualised by the camera’s gaze; as it endlessly investigates their bodies, zooming in and out of their crotch areas. The constant excessive displays of flesh are so repetitive that they lose their shock value and do become monotonous.
The most compelling moments are those involving James Franco’s Alien, whose exaggerated performance offers a few moments of humour, particularly as he boasts about owning two varieties of Calvin Klein eau de toilette (‘look at all my shit!’) Korine presents us with a snapshot of America’s materialistic youth, but that’s about it. Those who seek subtext will find it, but personally Spring Breakers was frustratingly unfulfilling.