Thursday, May 23

Spring Breakers

Springbreakers Through its depiction in movies and popular culture, the spring break holiday has gained mythological status as the time when horny college students get to live out their hedonistic fantasies.  How many times have we seen spring break depicted as the place where people can go crazy with sex, drugs, and drinking, without worrying about any possible consequences when they return to the real world?  Spring Breakers, directed by Harmony Korine (Gummo), takes this hedonistic fantasy of spring break and contrasts it with a darker world of crime and violence. The film focuses on four college students – Faith (Selena Gomez), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brit (Ashley Benson) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) – who are stoked about heading to spring break.  However, they hit a snag when they find out that they don’t have enough money pooled for the trip.  In a desperate move, Brit, Candy, and Cotty decide to rob a fast food restaurant to get the money for the trip, telling themselves to “pretend like it’s a video game” while doing so.  This begins the girls down a dark path, which becomes darker when they become acquainted with a rapper/drug dealer named Alien (James Franco), who is all about living the bad life. I should probably begin by talking about the film’s selling point, which is the stunt casting of the film’s four lead females.  With the exception of Harmony Korine’s wife Rachel, all the leads are known for previously being involved in family-friendly Disney-owned properties, especially Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens.  I should probably make it absolutely clear that Spring Breakers is NOT a family-friendly film.  The film is filled to the brim with excessive sexual content, drug use, and drinking, as well as the violence that appears in the latter half of the film.  If the film’s goal was to remove the family-friendly stigma from these actresses, it has more than succeeded. While watching the film, I couldn’t really decide if the film was meant as a dark comedy or a serious crime thriller.  By the end of the film, I came to the conclusion that the film is a bit of both.  While the film does indeed feature quite a bit of humour (mostly provided by James Franco’s character), the film is also dark and disturbing in how the girls, particularly Candy and Brit, seem to be enjoying their new violent lifestyle a little too much.  In some ways the film seems to be giving the satirical message that we are exposed to so much violence in the media that it just becomes another crazy spring break activity.  Even before the violence is shown on screen, it is constantly being foreshadowed through the sounds of cocking guns during transitions.  Probably one of the most interesting scenes in the film involves the use of Britney Spears’ song “Everytime,” partially sung by James Franco, as the soundtrack for a montage of the girls going on a crime spree.  This is probably the moment where the film’s satire is at its best.  Even though it’s a dark and violent scene, it is quite humorous that it is being accompanied by a tender love ballad.  I also have to give props for the film’s neon-lit climax, featuring the girls in pink bikinis and ski masks.  It is definitely an interesting sight. Overall, while I will say that Spring Breakers is definitely not a film for everyone, the film is a very interesting look at the contrast between hedonistic spring break fantasies and the dark world of crime and violence. 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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