If you've seen the trailer for Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, chances are you're somewhat intrigued. You're probably wondering if the outlandish looking crime-drama is a laughable farce or an original piece of filmmaking from a director best known as the writer of the controversial 1995 film Kids. Truth be told, Spring Breakers is a lot of both.
Childhood friends Faith, Brit, Candy and Cotty (played by Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and Rachel Korine) want nothing more than to escape their small town life and travel to Florida for Spring Break. Having saved nowhere near enough money for the trip, the three girls (minus a somewhat ethical Faith) rob a local restaurant and secure enough funds to embark on their journey of personal discovery. However, while enjoying their time in the sun a little too much, they end up arrested and charged with some hefty fines. Consequently, a local drug-dealer/rapper named Alien (James Franco) bails the ladies out of jail and introduces them to a world of crime.
Attempting to stand out as an original art-form, Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers offers a unique approach backed by very little substance. With overly repetitive dialogue (I swear you hear the sound clip of James Franco saying "Spring Break" about a hundred times) and a minimally progressing plot, the film serves as nothing more than a platform for director Harmony Korine's artistic expression. However, the director takes full advantage of the opportunity and conjures up a rare stylistic gem. With enough quick-cuts in the editing room to trigger a seizure, Korine continually interweaves images of the present moment with short glimpses of the future. It becomes a highly anticipated and clever way of approaching an otherwise hollow story. Given such a bland foundation to build from, Spring Breakers blends together a high-octane score (courtesy of Drive's Cliff Martinez and Skrillex) and profound direction that can definitely be classified as avant-garde.
Another glowing aspect of Spring Breakers is a convincing enough cast that helps transform a ridiculous concept into an engaging movie. Most notable is an often up-and-down James Franco who never disappoints in his role. I was blown away by the actor's Oscar Nominated performance in 2010's 127 Hours, but still await a return to such heights. Although Franco's onscreen efforts are by no means as transcending as his 2010 work, they represent a glimmer of hope that the potential to achieve similar results is still there. In addition to Franco, it deserves mention that all four of the girls leave their own impression on the story. Through the cast's ability to generate memorable personas, it's evident that director Harmony Korine has a deep understanding and purpose for each of his film's characters. Yet, as a writer, Korine fails to deliver a reasonable enough script and dialogue to elevate Spring Breakers to something better than a lavish tale of social deviance.
When you look back on Spring Breakers you'll appreciate the feature for its innovative direction, rare style and memorable imagery. However, the memories will far surpasses the level of enjoyment you'll experience while watching the film. This unorthodox consequence is the result of a flimsy foundation built on a one-dimensional story concerning multi-dimensional characters. Spring Breakers proves to be immensely bittersweet. You appreciate Harmony Korine's keen vision, yet his work never feels as groundbreaking as it should.