I was really worried that director Harmony Korine would reach the lower depths of Larry Clarke levels of exploitation with his dramatic crime thriller “Spring Breakers.” But thankfully, while “Spring Breakers” is often exploitative and completely gratuitous, it succeeds in also exploring the recklessness of youth, and the ticking clock that will inevitably catch up to four young women convinced they have life in their hands, that will more than likely blow up in their faces.
“Spring Breakers” garners an unusual filming style, to where we’re always on the outside, and never quite sure of the intentions of any of the characters. Surely, the girls here are incredibly sexy, and very centered on indulging their curiosities, but Korine oddly enough never sensationalizes them or turns them in to heroes. They’re still just fallible young women that think they have society pegged. And someday they may just run out of luck. The trio of young vixens in “The Spring Breakers” often present the facade of obnoxious ne’er dowells that want nothing more than to slack off. They even revel in their ignorance in moments where they mock a deaf friend of theirs, and proudly sing “Hit Me Baby, One More Time” in a parking lot.
But they’re more than just good looks. When they recruit their friend Faith (Selena Gomez) to join them on Spring Break, they learn they barely have enough money to rent a hotel room for the four of them. What culminates is their desperate plea for escapism as they proudly avoid any and all grasp of consequence and violence and stage a shockingly well orchestrated robbery at a local chicken joint. “Pretend it’s a video game! Act like it’s a fucking movie!” they encourage one another. Director Korine films the robbery beautifully as pink haired Cotty slows around the restaurant while we see her two cohorts rush in to the restaurant and rob pretty much everyone in the place using a heavy hammer and a fake firearm.
They also manage to steal a car from their friend and wreck it to destroy all evidence. Much of “Spring Breakers” is about what we perceive and what we really don’t know until the very end. Much of “Spring Breakers” delights in pulling the rug out from under the audience, as the trio of girls and their friend Faith retreat to Spring Break and engage in long bouts of partying and decadence soaked in booze, cocaine, and sexual antics. When they’re busted for cocaine use at a hotel room party, the four girls end up in jail. Gomez as Faith recalls much of her adventures on spring break to her grand mother over the phone, discussing the nice people she met, and the fun they’re all having, all set to neon landscapes of beaches and montages of the girls riding around in scooters.
This is then dissolved in to the foursome sitting in a cold jail, struggling to figure out their next plan of action. They either have to pay bail or end up jailed. Inexplicably, they end up the object of attention from local rapper Alien, who bails them out and proceeds to introduce them to his world. Incidentally another world filled with decadence, over-indulgence, and environments that are nowhere near resembling reality. Like the foursome, Alien has escaped in to his world of crime and zero consequence, and seeks to seduce the girls in to coming along for the ride. James Franco’s performance is Oscar Worthy, and the centerpiece of the film as he disappears in to the skin of Alien, presenting this obnoxious and shrill wannabe rapper who aspires to be a crime boss.
Yet again, we’re never sure why he’s taking such an interest in the foursome, but he is most insistent on winning them over with his materialism, and wants Faith in his life the most. When Faith wisely pulls out from this odd situation, the trio stay behind and “Spring Breakers” becomes much darker and observant of this age of materialism and dog eat dog. Like most of the narrative, what we see is never quite what will unfold on-screen, and the trio dive head first in to the world of money, drugs, and gangs, and never come back up for air until the very end. The finale is quite shocking and surprising, especially in how it destroys our notions about certain characters, and it ends in a manner that reveals ticking time bombs that will likely succeed in a dangerous world or self-destruct violently.