Brit, Candy, Cotty, and Faith have been best friends since grade school. They live together in a boring college dorm and are hungry for adventure. All they have to do is save enough money for spring break to get their shot at having some real fun. A serendipitous encounter with rapper "Alien" promises to provide the girls with all the thrill and excitement they could hope for. With the encouragement of their new friend, it soon becomes unclear how far the girls are willing to go to experience a spring break they will never forget.Written by
A sometimes thrilling, very hypnotic, poignant piece of filmmaking.
I can't describe the elation I felt leaving Spring Breakers--truly one of the best films to hit mainstream cinemas in a long time. It was a breath of fresh air amidst all the cookie cutter romantic comedies, dramas, action films, and horror movies that plague modern cinema. The stamp of a good film is the impact factor--how long it stays with you when it's over. Spring Breakers was a film that stayed with me long after leaving the theater. It didn't evaporate from my mind as soon as I hit the parking lot. This film affects you and leaves you in a mood long after the credits appear.
Those seeking a fun "party film" will be disappointed. The TV ads, poster, and cast have probably misled some viewers into thinking this is a cross between The Hangover and Project X. Don't let the cast or the marketing fool you--this is not a "feel good" movie. It's a dark, exciting, tragic look at modern youth culture that doesn't so much as revel in the pop culture sensory overload as hold up a mirror to the audience so we can see some of ourselves in these kids. And if you're like me, you'll find this kind of self-reflection very disturbing. More than once, I was disgusted and enthralled with these characters, not knowing whether I should feel amused, angry, or sad. This is truly the best deconstruction of modern culture I've seen.
The movie starts with our main quartet of female characters struggling to find a way around the fact they don't have enough money to travel to Florida for that much-hyped, almost mythical annual rite of passage nearly every college kid in the country has to face at some point: spring break. Selena Gomez is easily the most likable member of the cast--a young girl struggling to balance her Christian faith and values in the moral wasteland that is college life. One moment we see her praying in church, and the next she's passively condoning the fact that her friends have just robbed a restaurant in order to obtain the rest of the money they need to make it to Florida. In one poignant monologue, she speaks of the monotony of life and how everyone is depressed because they wake up and see the same things every day. Her desire to go on spring break is almost spiritual in nature--a soul-searching journey in which she just wants to be someone new and be free.
The spring break party scenes are manic--loud music, hypnotic imagery, and disorienting colors all come together like some kind of dream. The fun soon ends once the girls are arrested for using narcotics at a wild party. They have two options: pay a fine, or remain in jail for another two days. Out of money and unwilling to call their parents, the girls languish in jail until a mysterious visitor posts their bail. Enter James Franco as Alien, a white gangster with gold teeth, dreadlocks, and a ton of money and guns to go along with his criminal tendencies. Franco truly breaks out in this performance, becoming someone I never could have imagined he'd be able to pull off back in his Spider-Man days. His intentions are murky and the film never misses an opportunity to make us feel uncomfortable witnessing his interactions with the girls. It's at this point that the film takes a drastic turn into even darker territory, the trip slowly proving itself to be more than a few of them bargained for. Thus begins the tragic slide into the dark nature of these characters, as they find themselves participating in and doing things bound to seduce the audience into an awe-struck state more than once.
Not that any of this is told through a conventional narrative. The whole film feels like one crazy, hypnotic dream, from its use of colors to its loud, insane score that ranges from romping party fun to atmospheric, moody pieces that underline the darker moments in the film. The narrative jumps around in time and space, pasted together through flashbacks, flash forwards, and repetitive lines that linger in the back of the viewer's mind like a broken record. The cinematography is flat out excellent and the filmmakers make perfect use of the beautiful Florida scenery amidst all the sheer depravity we witness on screen, with more than a few shots of the beautiful Florida sky and sunset to remind us of our humanity.
By the time the film reaches a delirious montage of violence set to the unlikely tune of Britney Spears' song Every time, Korine has us hook, line, and sinker feeling a sense of revulsion and pity for ourselves and the world at large. Any film that can provoke this type of uncomfortable self-contemplation deserves to be praised.
In the end, I left the theater feeling like I'd just come off an intense acid trip into the darker recesses of modern culture, emotionally exhausted and ready to get in my car and drive home in silence, reflecting on what I'd just seen.
If you're not expecting to have fun and aren't afraid to look inside yourself to that aspect of your personality that craves materialism and vapid entertainment at the expense of losing some of your humanity, go and see Spring Breakers. It's truly one of the best films of 2013 (so far) and will no doubt be a cult classic in years to come. Just don't blame me if the film haunts you long after it's over.
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