Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

When I finished watching Spring Breakers I felt emotionally and mentally drained, staring hollow eyed at my computer screen, just generally depressed about life. Normally, I would consider such a visceral response to a movie high praise indeed, but with Spring Breakers it simply felt like the film sapped all of my energy and gave me nothing in return. I had to go and cheer myself up with some of Jim Sterling's online videos (he's an outspoken video game journalist I really respect...doesn't matter I suppose, sorry, I'm stalling), and I'm back and ready to do my best to get this mess reviewed.

Spring Breakers tells the story of four girls who manage to gather together enough money (via frugal saving and armed robbery) to escape to spring break in Florida. Once there they laugh, party, drink and do drugs, until they get arrested and find their fun over when unable to make bail. This catches the eye of local drug runner and aspiring rapper Alien, who bails the girls out and takes them under his wing.

I really get the feeling that with Spring Breakers writer/director Harmony Korine was trying make some bold statements about gender roles and the MTV generation/pop-culture opposed youth. The only problem is I didn't see any evidence of these statements aside from my gut feeling that they should be there. Yes there are some scenes in which the girls turn the tables sexually on Alien, dominating him in turn, but it's hard to feel that a movie has positive things to say about female sexuality when the camera is drawn almost magnetically to every available woman’s scantily clad ass or not clad at all chest. Some moments this obsessive gaze actually distracted from the story by taking the time to objectify the main characters in the middle of their quiet conversation scenes.

As for the MTV Cribs inspired lust for material wealth that is personified in Alien, sure, the man looks ridiculous with his blinged out teeth, talking about his “shit” and bragging about having Scarface on an infinite loop, the problem is, in this film's universe, he's the coolest dude alive. If the film was so hellbent on vilifying the extravagance of spring break, it was sure hard to tell when it took every opportunity to pad its runtime with footage of boozing and partying.

Speaking of padding the runtime, as if the endless pulsing strobe lights, heavy neon-tinged lighting, and endlessly thumping dubstep weren't enough to give me a headache, the director decided that almost every line of dialogue was so brilliant that we had to hear it upwards of five or six times, sometimes in a row. Trust me, it isn't, because none of the characters here are anywhere close to being interesting enough to spend time with.

The four girls can be summed up as Selena Gomez and three others. Gomez is a nightmare, playing the insufferable “moral” character who does nothing but whine or wax poetic about life the whole time in a barely registering monotone. The other three girls are boring and interchangeable and I never even managed to learn any of their names during the film's duration, nor did I care. Alien, on the other, played with gusto by James Franco, had the potential to turn things around. At first his outlandish, over-the-top nature was enough to breathe some life into the story, but his wannabe gangsta veneer quickly wore thin as you realize just how detestable this waste of air is. Not to say Franco is bad mind you, he gives it 110% and I was very impressed by his performance, enough so that I would consider it one of the best of the year.

Overall, Spring Breakers is a sickeningly stylish toxic waste-dump of a movie, featuring miserable, hateable characters, migraine inflicting visuals and music, endless repetition, mostly flaccid acting, endless repetition, which all comes together to create a film that is desperately trying to mock what it ends up becoming itself, a hollow piece of pop obsessed fluff, and it's repetitive.

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