sat 04/04/2020

Spring Breakers | reviews, news & interviews

Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

James Franco parties hard with four girls gone wild in a film that's indecently entertaining

Girls just wanna have fun? Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine and Vanessa Hudgens are the 'Spring Breakers'

Whilst Zac Efron is getting urinated on in The Paperboy, his High School Musical co-star Vanessa Hudgens is taking the piss in an entirely different sense. In Spring Breakers Hudgens and Disney princess Selena Gomez bin their clean-cut images to hook up with James Franco's metal-mouthed miscreant during the US rites-of-passage party season. Harmony Korine's fifth feature gives us girls in bikinis packing heat.

Whilst Zac Efron is getting urinated on in The Paperboy, his High School Musical co-star Vanessa Hudgens is taking the piss in an entirely different sense. In Spring Breakers Hudgens and Disney princess Selena Gomez bin their clean-cut images to hook up with James Franco's metal-mouthed miscreant during the US rites-of-passage party season. Harmony Korine's fifth feature gives us girls in bikinis packing heat. It revels in the fuck-you-I-won't-do-what-you-tell-me of it all and it's hard not to be seduced by its glamorously anarchic brand of entertainment.

Spring Breakers follows four college girls as they flee the oppressive ordinariness of a small town and head to Florida to let it all hang out on Spring Break. Unlike Korine's previous protagonists, these four don't look like misfits. They are bad girls Candy (Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Korine's wife Rachel) and good girl Faith (Gomez) who's shown attending a bible group and who has given this cultural turd a little polish: "This is more than Spring Break, it's our chance to do something different".

What these girls also don't look like is violent criminals, yet three of them aren't remotely afraid to tool up and bust skulls. They rob a restaurant to facilitate their holiday plans and after a wild party ends up with a night in the cells, the foursome are bailed out by the curiously named and attired Alien (Franco, pictured right), a local bad-ass, whose agenda for doing so remains ominously unexplained.

Korine is probably best known as the screenwriter behind Larry Clark's similarly morality baiting Kids (1995). Back in 1997 he made the striking Gummo and his eccentric Mister Lonely (2007) is worth a watch too. Spring Breakers combines commercial potential with an outsider's edge. The roving camerawork is like a heat-seeking missile for youthful sin and flashes of flesh; its a film that lingers provocatively on crotches, boobs and bums and dives below the surface of swimming pools for a tawdry glimpse of what lies beneath. The sleazily immersive look comes courtesy of cinematographer Benoît Debie (who produced similarly fluid work for Gaspar Noé on the comparably transgressive Irreversible and Enter the Void).

As well as playing up mischievously to what we might expect, Korine makes notably confounding choices: the restaurant robbery has a cleverly "drive-through" quality, as we remain in the car with getaway driver Cotty as she circles the building, and there's the truly unforgettable inclusion of a Britney Spears ballad as matters take a very dark turn. If Korine's keeping-in-the-spirit direction impresses, the performances aren't half bad either. Franco boasts a shit-eating grin that sparkles sinfully and though there's an initial unease to his relationship with the girls, all is not what it seems. There's also an impressive sensitivity to the depiction of Faith (the most fleshed-out role, though far from the most fun) and if we ever write the other girls off as out-of-their-depth we're cheeringly proved wrong.

Rocking both the youthful energy and ennui of those it depicts, for all its booty-gazing Spring Breakers also laps up the girls' non-conformism and violent potential, so much so that it often feels - dare I say it - perversely empowered. Moreover Korine's film stunningly conveys that most taboo of truths: that sometimes it feels good to be bad.

  • Spring Breakers is in cinemas from Friday

Watch the trailer for Spring Breakers

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It often feels - dare I say it - perversely empowered

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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