Film Review: ‘Spring Breakers’

James Franco (seriously) plays rapper/drug lord/ruffian Alien in Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers" Credit: Annapurna Pictures
James Franco (seriously) plays rapper/drug lord/ruffian Alien in Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers”
Credit: Annapurna Pictures

‘Spring Breakers’
Director: Harmony Korine
Stars: Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

The Spring Breakers of the title — religious Faith (Selena Gomez) plus bad girl friends-since-kindergarten Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) and Cotty (Rachel Korine) — are bored at the start of Harmony Korine’s super-stylized exploitation drama. Despondent with their flat-looking campus and wanting to see “something new,” the three evil girls rob a Chicken Shack restaurant, then collar Faith and head to Florida for drugs and demonstrative hedonism.

Party montages ensue, and during a cocaine-heavy afternoon the cops show up. Up to this point, “Spring Breakers” keeps a straight face, giving sex-minded viewers what they came for: copious anonymous toplessness and young women giving porn-minded frat boys what they expect. From Gaspar Noe, an equally provocation-minded director, Korine borrows both cinematographer Benoit Debie and a modified unnerving sound effect. In Noe’s feature debut “I Stand Alone,” gunshots go off on the soundtrack for no reason and with little warning, scaring audiences with random noise alone. Here, Korine similarly jacks up the sound of a gun being cocked, an audio link with dubstep terror Skrillex’s bass thumping. Violent rhythms presage actual violence, with random kids destroying rooms as a partying highlight.

When the MTV-plus-boobs good times end, Faith et al. are bailed out by aspiring rapper/drug lord/freelance ruffian Alien (James Franco). Reveling in his money, his platinum grille and a TV with a constant loop of “Scarface,” he’s a self-proclaimed “gangsta” with enough guns for his own final Pacino-esque shootout. He’s a goofy, inspired comic creation burdened with the responsibility of spelling out Korine’s themes. “This is America,” Alien explains. “This is the American dream.”

That dream has to inevitably reveal itself a nightmare, presumably darkening and curdling the earlier T&A. The girls and Alien share a communal narration track, an unabashed nod to Terrence Malick, whose 1974 debut “Badlands” similarly gives Sissy Spacek an uncomprehending, flat voiceover over a murderous summer spree. The girls are vapid, bad commenters on their own story, manically fixated on partying and singing Britney Spears.

Repetitively nihilistic, it’s a movie making predictable visual poetry — jacked-up neon lights at night, drugged-out partiers reaching transcendence through exhaustion — out of girls whose only viable aspirations for transcendence go no further than the worst week in Florida. That’s sad, but Korine’s beautiful losers are interchangeable, and his shockingly clunky third-act exposition punctures any ambitions for a death-charged dream reverie.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Two young children killed in deadly Queens fire

Two 4-year-old children died after a blaze at their Far Rockaway home on Saturday night. The Queens fire injured three others, including a third sibling.

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to your first Season 2 “Orphan Black” recap! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany,…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Parenting

Is camp right for introverts?

We ask an expert for tips on sending your introverted child to camp

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.