R, 94 min.
Director/Writer: Harmony Korine
Starring: Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, James Franco, Selena Gomez, Gucci Mane
It’s way past Spring Break, but Harmony Korine’s latest controversial movie “Spring Breakers” is now available on most home video platforms. Korine, who has a signature of showing the not-so-nice aspects of life in films like “Kids” and “Julien Donkey-Boy”, returns to show us the dark side of the college ritual of Spring Break. Along the way he corrupts the images of former Disney stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens along with handing James Franco one of his more low-life performances. Franco’s character seems like it would’ve been written for Heath Ledger, but Franco does a fine job in it.
This film, like most of Korine’s movies, isn’t going to appeal to a wide audience. It is a scathing indictment on the state of today’s over-privileged youth, and it is surprisingly entertaining, despite its seedy nature. It follows a group of girls determined to go on a Spring Break vacation from their monotonous college lives. They’ve spent too much of their time in college partying to have saved enough money for the trip, but they’re determined that they will find the key to what is missing in their dull existences at Spring Break. One (Gomez) is religious, but is having a hard time with her faith. She’s the only one who has saved anything; the other three decide to rob a local eatery to come up with their money.
Commence the debauchery that is Spring Break. The funny thing is, other than the religious one, nothing about this Spring Break existence really seems all that different from what they’ve already done in college. The only difference is they don’t have any classes to attend. The religious one thinks she’s discovered they way life should be, however. That is until the four of them get arrested in a drug bust. A low level thug (Franco), who thinks they can help him expend his territory, bails them out.
What’s most impressive about this film is Korine’s ability to avoid typical character and story developments. Franco’s character is a thug that thinks more of himself than he’s earned, but he’s also fair and honest to the girls. He lets the ones who want to leave. Gomez’s Christian doesn’t ever lose her faith entirely and the whole thing is really just her finally letting lose after years of good behavior until it all becomes too much for her.