Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, Ashley Benson and James Franco
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
What is undeniably brilliant about Spring Breakers is the visual construction of it. As a seventeen-year-old male, many would assume that I liked the visual presentation of this film as the four female leads spend most, if not all, of the film; in their bikinis…this is not the case. As a lover and appreciator of film and filmmaking, it is impossible not to appreciate this film’s cinematography, editing and sound design. An early example of this film’s visual prowess comes through the presentation of a robbery in one continuous long shot from the outside. Additionally Korine approaches and perhaps exceeds Tarantino levels of mad genius, when he elects to have the Britney Spears song, Everytime, accompany a slow motion montage of violence. An early contender for scene of the year and destined to be included in all future ‘best uses of songs in film’ lists. I would go and watch the film again, just for that inspired and unforgettable scene. This film’s presentation and construction is unique to the point that it will most likely alienate mainstream audiences who merely wanted to see Disney girls go bad.
Spring Breakers is an over the top satire that many will miss the point of. This is a film that criticizes my generation and their warped view of freedom, success and a good time. It shows us four small town girls who are desperately searching for that ‘spring break experience’ the desperate and reckless pursuit for an ultimately unattainable goal, it is in many ways, The Great Gatsby for the instagram generation. However despite having great ideas underneath the surface, Korine seems to forego or lose such depth within his own stylistic flourishes, with the style ultimately taking precedent over the substance. The film is also rather unsubtle about the ways in which it presents its ideas, with it containing some of the most on the nose yet concurrently effective juxtapositions of recent cinematic times.
Korine constructs the film in such a way that it is inherently and intentionally repetitive, however such an approach does ultimately become grating and tiresome, especially when it feels as if every line of dialogue is repeated ten times. It is the case with this film that some of its greatest strengths are its greatest weaknesses. The film’s intoxicating style is both what sets it apart but ultimately due to the ill discipline of its director, what holds it back from achieving the substantial greatness it may have under less visually indulgent hands. There is also the unsettling feeling throughout that the film is concurrently condemning and celebrating the behaviour on screen. While I am sure and aware that Korine’s intention with the numerous party scenes was to ultimately mock them, it commonly felt, especially by the film’s conclusion, that the movie lacked the true dramatic and visceral punch to truly bring such ideas and criticisms home. While the dream-like and unrealistic quality of it is intentional in regards to portraying a desire and a mind-set, it simultaneously softens the blows and means this film lacks the edge it could have had and arguably required.
The film has some refreshingly realistic developments in regards to the actions of certain characters, yet once again this strength leads to a weakness as there are many threads that don’t go anywhere and much wasted potential as one character in particular reaches a very anti-climatic end. Therefore while Korine gives us some unforgettable images and sequences, his script required a bit more exploration of its ideas rather than its shots (In multiple meanings of the word) in order to become more than just a visual exercise.
In regards to the performances the four main females aren’t really given much to work with dramatically. It’s potentially commendable to see actresses with such a family-friendly and safe image play such detestable characters however, this is very much seems like ‘breaking out’ 101, with the suspicion ever present that the actresses are approaching this lazily, thinking that simply stripping off, saying a few curse words and doing some violent things constitutes a good performance and will lead to being taken seriously as an actress. Where the true acting strength in this film resides, is in the performance of James Franco.
As Alien, James Franco gives the first great performance of 2013. He is transformative and unrecognizable in this film, providing the film with both its funniest and darkest moments. His character is a fascinating one, a young boy pretending to be a man through violence and excess. The scene where he shows off his material gains is a genius piece of writing and directing, with Franco repeatedly and enthusiastically instructing the girls to, “Look at my sh*t” He then proceeds to display his multiple Calvin Klein body sprays, guns, designer clothing and notes how he has Scarface playing on repeat. His car license plate is later revealed to be, BALLR. It is a charismatic and creepy performance with the hilarity he ensues laced with the constant threat of danger and ultimately poignancy, as we learn that like the leads, he is nothing to be afraid of and simply a sad, pathetic individual, who has submerged himself into an artificial existence.
Spring Breakers is an incredibly flawed film. It has a slow start, it is repetitive, it is anti-climatic, it is arguably hypocritical in its approach and lacks the visceral and dramatic punch required to really drive home its ideas, ones that are not explored as well as they could have been due to the ultimate focus on style rather than substance. However within that style is some of the most unforgettable filmmaking of this young year and due to that, the uniqueness of its execution and tone and the performance of James Franco, that this film will stick in your head and concurrently go up and down in value, the more you think about it. Love it or hate it, the originality, visuals and performance of Franco must be appreciated as well as the discussion, reviews and reactions that this film has generated. As a follower of film and film discussion, Spring Breakers is that rare film that is instigating passionate reactions all across the spectrum, and that is something to be celebrated. It is my suspicion that due to the cult following this film is already beginning to create, this is one we will be watching, discussing and arguing about for a long time to come.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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