Directed by Harmony Korine
94 mins, USA, 2012
College students Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Faith (Selena Gomez), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) are short of the cash they need for a spring-break trip, so they rob a diner and head down to Florida. However, the police soon break up the party and arrest them. The curvaceous quartet are unexpectedly bailed out by a drug dealer and aspiring rap artist named Alien (James Franco). Soon after, three of the four gal pals decide to join Alien in a life of crime.
I ‘ll have to watch it again before I make up my mind fully but this is the most fun I’ve had with a Harmony Korine film in a long time. It’s not as funny or as weird as Gummo (which is out of print?), which I love, but it’s more disciplined stylistically and the performances are clearly performances rather than jokes played on non-professional actors and our own ideas of how such folks should be treated or portrayed. The actors inhabit modern pop culture archetypes, including bimbos, which you can be offended about or not (Korine doesn’t care) and none more so than Franco as the pleasure-principled wigger.
The whole film is a ritual, a bacchanal, dedicated to money, over-indulgence, sex, dancing, drugs, flesh, complete with a high priest (Franco, who’s a scream), temple prostitutes, orgies, communal dancing (twerk!) and drinking, raids on rival tribes and finally, sacrifices.
It’s not just a film of a ritual — young college-age America’s pilgrimage to the beaches and hotels of the Southern coastal US — it is the thing itself, or at least it makes an attempt to be. Like Kenneth Anger’s Invocation of my Demon Brother, the ritual takes place again when it’s projected or watched. All that explains the repeated incantations and sound effects, like the gun-cock, in the soundtrack, the slo-mo, the visual rhyming, the ecstasy on the faces, the bursting neon colors and blacker blacks, the speeches & exhortations, the failure of the Christian to endure the ritual, to have the right kind of faith — this is a pagan joint, y’all — and the final, final message of Spring Break Forever.
Let a thousand midnight showings bloom.
Spring Breakers’ reputation has gotten worse over time and I’m not sure the reason for that. It could be puritanical reactionary responses from normally not-reactionary intellectuals such as this one from Jonathan Rosenbaum. Inexplicably, and without explanation, he describes the film as being “crossed with kiddie-porn.”
Because boobs in bikinis?
Forgive me, but even without looking at the women in the film for proof, aren’t they all college-age? I don’t get it.