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

Woman's body found floating in East River in…

A woman's body was found Tuesday morning floating in the East River near Clason Point in the Bronx. The NYPD responded to the scene shortly…

International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.