VENICE: Oldies beware Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers might seem slight but the buzz from younger Euro-critics after its first screening in Venice was decidedly positive.
The film looks like a cross between a remake of a 1960’s beach party film gone strangely wrong and a bizarre look at American youth at its most empty and shallow. But the end result is a visual style that is both trashy and hypnotic.
The storyline which is some kind of parody is littered with trashy and tasteless dance routines, beach party teenage style action and pulp style gangster violence. With many critics asking how Spring Breakers cast up in competition in Venice this is not the first instance of trash as art generating its own genre.
Visually brash and original Korine’s teenage fun is fueled by parties where the music blasts while the kids indulge in drugs, alcohol, raunchy dancing and slutty behaviour. Everything is punctuated with by an electronic score by Cliff Martinez and Skrillex and saturated colours in images by cinematographer Benoit Debie. In this world everything is over the top. As the scriptwriter for Larry Clark’s sexually explicit Kids audiences expect to see Korine roll out sexual content but here it’s all sleaze and laughs. In a typical musical number the girls are seen dancing with AK-47’s. Bikini’s and bare breasts are plentiful in Spring Breakers but the element of parody takes the edge off of the porn.
The storyline starts out with a group of college girls who decide to rob a fast food place with fake guns to get some cash to break out of their boring small town and have some fun. Candy played by Vanessa Hudgens, Brit played by Ashley Benson and Cotty played by Rachel Korine the director’s wife all find they get a big buzz out of crime. Their childhood friend Faith played by Selena Gomez, a member of a Christian youth group, is appalled when the girls tell her about the robbery but she is not beyond accepting a share of the loot.
The girl gang ends up hauled into court after being busted for drugs at a wild party. Alien a bizarre Florida gangster played by James Franco bails the girls out and after a confrontation with Faith who has had enough and takes the bus home the girls join Alien in his pimpmobile headed for a life of hedonism and crime in the Florida sun in the wildest spring break ever.
The bikini clad bad girls join in Alien and the gangsters’ life of crime naturally and the excesses, raunchy dance scenes and violent crime merge into one non-stop party.
The visual style is riveting although the plot is thin and the characters are rather one dimensional. Korine has a lot of fun with cinema references that cinephiles will get a kick out of although the substance of the film might be rather slight for some.
Former Disney Channel girls Hudgens and Gomez should be an audience draw for the younger set.
Director: Harmony Korine
DoP: Benoit Debit
Cast: James Franco. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, James Franco, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine