Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers ★★★

Official review music: Click it y'all

Before this movie, the only sample I had of Harmony Korine and his work was Larry Clark's film Kids. Even though I must admit it was as bravura as they come, I wasn't too impressed with it and so I never bothered to check out the rest of Korine's work. That all changed when the first trailers for Spring Breakers started coming out. What got my attention was the fact that it seemed really different from what Korine usually makes, something that the early buzz seemed to corroborate. I was also interested to see what teen popstar Selena Gomez was up to in a movie that seemed way off anyone would expect her to be in. The little girl from Waverly Place doing blow and participating in shakedowns? This I had to see.

Spring Breakers, for better or worse, is an in-depth voyage to the dark side of the American Dream, seen through the eyes of a group of friends who want to party their days away at Spring break. Candy, Brit and Cotty (Vanessa Hudgens, Ashely Benson and Rachel Korine, respectively) play the outgoing, rotten little seeds whereas Faith (played by Selena Gomez) is the shy little lamb of the group. The first three girls (let's call them 'Ready, Willing, and Able') take most of the spotlight as the tone of the movie clearly calls for it. As the movie progresses, the innocence of youth is slowly replaced with the reality of the shady underworld of crime and the hardcore teenage scene and all fours characters are affected by that change, in one way or the other.
Honestly, I don't think there was much acting involved in regards of the 4 main girls: they're all young, attractive and the little I know of two of them (Gomez and Hudgens) leads me to believe that their screen personas don't detract from their real life personality. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm not.

The main flaw of the film is its first half. I understand Korine wants to show the parties and all the craziness in them. I get it. But I don't think that exposure should've lasted for the better part of an hour. Apart from some important scenes that set up the characters and the plot, much of the movie's first and second acts is filled with footage of teenagers dancing, downing beer by the gallon and performing all kinds of sex acts. I like female breasts as much as the next guy, but maybe they should've been edited with a bit more regard to the overall pace of the film (or maybe I've gotten way too old and you should overlook this last part).
It's with the introduction with James Franco's character Alien that the movie truly finds its meaning and his first interaction with the group marks the beggining of the end (or the end of the beggining, depending on how you look at it). From there on, all girls go through change and, sooner or later, reach an emotional crossroads that allows them to take a step on the discovery of their true selves. Sadly, the shallow first half takes up too much runtime and the characters aren't given appropriate time to breathe.

From a technical standpoint, the film is an assault on the senses. Not since Drive was there such an abusive use of neon, an effect that is featured constantly but is never unpleasant to admire or seemingly forced. I love to see nightlife contrast with brighter colors, something Benoît Debie's cinematography features in both quality and quantity. We seldom see any scenes without a greatly diverse color pallet, an extremely important thing to get right, regarding the movie's tone and message. The soundtrack is also worthy of merit. Although I'm not a fan of much of the genres, there's no way kind of music to display than dubstep, trance and all the 50000 sub-genres around them. Given the way the scenes are edited, the music works really well and it almost makes us feel we're there on that beach/club/crowded room/etc. The scene featuring Britney Spears' "Everytime" is easily the best moment of the entire 94 minute ride, summing the movie perfectly. I guess it would pointless to spoil that scene before the actual movie, but with some adding here and there, that entire sequence would make for a great trailer. Greatest contribution by Miss Spears to the fine arts since that "Crazy" video.

Spring Breakers is the darkest coming-of-age story you'll probably see all year and it makes for a good-enough spectacle. Sadly, it also comes with some faults that spoiled the picture for me but, all in all, I think it still warrants a watch. If anything, it works as a great commercial for how much of a goddess Ashley Benson is.

Bad thoughts intensify...

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