TIFF 2012: SPRING BREAKERS Review

     September 12, 2012

spring-breakers-slice

Harmony Korine‘s Spring Breakers is a wild, aggressive, mildly disturbing, darkly comic, and surprisingly thoughtful film about hedonism so thick you’ll about to choke on it.  For college kids who feel entitled to a good time and never want the party to stop, Spring Breakers takes their debauched desires, and plays them out to a grotesque degree where the characters are tested in how far they’ll go to keep the passion of spring break burning forever (the other burning will require penicillin).  Complimented by the glorious stunt casting of James Franco as a goofy drug dealer, Spring Breakers defies simple explanation, and sends the audience spinning as we grasp for some kind of anchor in this sweaty mosh pit of a movie.

College girls Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine), and Faith (Selena Gomez) are hungry to go on spring break.  They need to escape from their small college town, and feel entitled to their birth right of binging, hedonism, and having as much fun as they want for as long as they want.  Short on the cash they need to make it to spring break, Brit, Candy, and Cotty rob a restaurant, and use the money to go a magical time of dancing, drinking, grinding, smoking, snorting, and the other markers of an recklessly abandon.  After blowing through all their money, the quartet ends up getting arrested for disorderly conduct, but they’re released from jail after their fine is paid by the drug-dealing Alien (Franco).  Thinking that the girls are easy prey to hit it and quit it, Alien discovers that Brit, Candy, and Cotty are far from ordinary party girls.

spring-breakers-1

Watching people party in movies tends to be boring.  It’s not like watching the food network, and you’re hit with a desire to start cooking.  Korine makes his point from the get go when he shows us a spring break party so lurid that it feels like the Visigoths are going to charge in at any second and sack Florida.  We drown in a sea of bare breasts, ripped pecks, beer funnels, and makeshift bongs.  In Spring Breakers, we don’t want to join the party.  We’re just grateful VD isn’t airborne.

But for the girls, they crave this depraved land.  It’s in their blood, and they romanticize the experience.  “I’m starting to think this is the most spiritual place I’ve ever been,” Faith narrates over slow motion shots of swaying breasts, scooter rides, and guys using beer bottles to ejaculate alcohol over grateful bimbos.  And if spring break is a holiday, literally a “holy day”, then Alien is its patron saint.  He is its sleazy symbol of excess beyond excess, and yet he still doesn’t match the intensity of Brit, Candy, and Cotty (who are basically one person since they don’t have distinct personalities).  These are girls who tell each other, “You’ve got to be hard.  Don’t be afraid of anything,” before they rob the restaurant.

spring-breakers-james-franco

Spring Breakers opens the door for some fascinating discussions of gender power and sexuality.  But the serious stuff never becomes overbearing when you put a character like Alien at the forefront.  Once he enters the picture, Alien almost takes over as Franco explodes off the screen.  He merrily chews every piece of scenery with his silver grill, but always makes sure his character fits within Korine’s twisted vision where lines like “the water is pretty, but the sharks are waiting,” stand as zen wisdom, and crime spree is set to Brittany Spears’ “Everytime.”

Korine shows us a world that is loathsome, selfish, and profane, yet we can’t look away.  His film manifests a kind of anti-fun, where we’re stuck on a queasy roller coaster ride that’s never meant to end.  Scenes circle around, narration is repeated, time is a blur, and the party never stops.  It’s The Real Cancun if that movie actually showed the real Cancun.  We may never join the party, but Spring Breakers makes sure we’re entrance by those who never leave it.

Rating: B

For all of our TIFF 2012 coverage, click here.  Here are links to all of my TIFF 2012 reviews:

Around The Web

Latest News

New THE MARTIAN Pictures Further Reveal Ridley Scott’s Sci-Fi Thriller

Matt Damon leads the "'Cast Away' on Mars"-esque film, which also stars Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Kate Mara.

Watch: POLTERGEIST’s Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt Play “Save or Kill”

Which would you save? ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Star Trek’? Han Solo or Indiana Jones? ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Breaking Bad’? Watch as Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt are forced to choose.

ASSASSIN’S CREED and Next BOURNE Movie May Add EX MACHINA’s Alicia Vikander

It looks like she won't star in 'The Circle' opposite Tom Hanks after all.

TOP 5: TOMORROWLAND, First STEVE JOBS Trailer, POLTERGEIST, Cannes 2015

David Letterman's final 'Top Ten' and yet another enthusiastic 'Mad Max: Fury Road' recommendation also play roles in this week's Top 5.

ENTOURAGE: Jeremy Piven Talks Returning to Ari, Cameos, and More from the Set

From the set of the film, the actor discusses the difficulty of coming back to the role of Ari, fan reaction to meeting him on the street, and more.

First THE MARTIAN Picture Reveals Matt Damon as Stranded Astronaut Mark Watney

Ridley Scott's adaptation of the Andy Weir novel is due in theaters on November 25th.

JURASSIC WORLD on Track for $100 Million+ Opening Weekend

The fourth installment in the 'Jurassic Park' franchise is looking to perform similar to 'Man of Steel', but will the movie be any good?

Caption This: MODERN FAMILY’s Luke Needs a Pick Up Line

Also, 'The Flash's' Jesse L. Martin is super sad -- is it because of Luke's woeful lack of game?

Friday Box Office: TOMORROWLAND Edges Out PITCH PERFECT 2

Disney’s ‘Tomorrowland’ got the win yesterday, but will end up battling ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ for dominance over the long holiday weekend. Meanwhile, the ‘Poltergeist’ reboot opens on target, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ remains strong and ‘Age of Ultron’ gets set to pass $400 million domestic.

A Black and White Version of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD Will Be on the Blu-Ray

Plus, watch a "deleted scene" from the movie featuring Patton Oswalt.

Page 1 of 3,96212345...102030...Last »