Review: Spring Breakers (2013, Harmony Korine)

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Director: Harmony Korine

Starring: Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, James Franco

Studio: Universal

Seemingly only concerned with showcasing one time Disney Channel children as sexualised young adults, Spring Breakers carries very little substance in its narrative – instead opting to sell itself on shock value. With a constant barrage of neon glows and young people genitals, director Harmony Korine is so intent on critiquing the subjects of the narrative instead of working a consistent and enjoyable plot from which the characters can be explored. With some odd filmmaking decisions littering the entire finished production – culminating in an extremely badly produced sequence in the film’s close- Spring Breakers is little more than a disappointment with flashy colours.

As a rite of passage for the majority of Americans, Spring Break is a time to let loose and have fun with friends. For Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Faith (Selena Gomez), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) Spring Break is a chance to explore their individuality and budding friendship. However with very little money between them, the group decide to rob an eating establishment and fund their time away from home. Finding the thrill of the robbery a major high, the group become absorbed into the criminal underworld under the guidance of wannabe gangster Alien (James Franco) as he takes on a local rival with devastating consequences.

On paper the narrative of Spring Breakers is an intriguing premise, with the characters decline into criminality a point from which moral messages can be dissected. However, in execution the narrative struggles to maintain a relevance or interest from which the film feels worthy of being watched. With the narrative arc being so loosely controlled the film becomes a copy and paste of itself, with latter stages of the film being a direct rehash of what’s come before.  This issue is most prevalent in its dialogue choices, with Korine utilising repeats of character utterance that have simply being placed multiple times within the same sequence without even a change of tone. This takes the audience away from the narrative, as the editing process of the film is instantly recognisable – bringing with it a level of manufacture that overrides anything aspect that the film has done well.

With an overabundance of female breasts on show throughout, the film is seen desperately trying to sell its own appeal on the audience interest of sex. Placed alongside the obvious attempt to appear modern with its neon aesthetic, this overabundance quickly becomes gimmicky – as if it is used as a means to replace high quality film craft. With each segment of its shallow plot reverting back to a sequence of nudity – often featuring the same crowd of partygoers – Spring Breakers comes across dull in the majority of its duration.  Spring Breakers also leaves some of its character development stranded, with certain cast members disappearing from the film with not overriding conclusion given to their individual storylines. This frustrates as the film struggles to deliver consistency in its narrative.

With colour being a major aspect of the films design, Korine has opted to use neon colours in almost every piece of the films cinematography. With purples and greens obstructing audience understanding, Spring Breakers becomes convoluted in its colour palette. With this overuse of colour being a stylistic decision, Spring Breakers can be forgiven for designing its image within this manner. Where it can’t be forgiven however is in the constant need to have the four skimpily clad girls dressed in matching swimsuits, with no real reason aside from making their assets stand out against the colourful backdrop. A decision which is obviously implemented to create a contrast, this constant need to have the girls dressed in a particular style takes away the majority of the films realism, as such disjointing the characters from the films locations.

With a cast of promising young actresses, and a near unrecognisable James Franco as the films biggest star, Spring Breakers at first seems to be a promising critique on youth culture. However, with poor and lazy filmmaking and an overuse of the female form, Harmony Korine has diluted the appeal of its premise, instead creating a film that is dull, messy and unwarranted as a cinematic release. When observed outside its neon glaze, Spring Breakers is seen to hold many flaws which obstruct the narrative from delivering the key message the director so desperately wanted to project.

Plot 2

Acting 2

Direction 1

Retrospect 1

Overall 1.5

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