Ryan Kirby’s review published on Letterboxd:
Spring Breakers was an interesting film the minute it was announced, between the reputation of director Harmony Korine, and the fact that he got two post-disney-channel starlets to sign onto his project. This led me to believe that this was a movie designed to pull in a target audience, like the frat party crowd that was completely down with movies like Project X and 21 and Over, and fuck with them in a way they're not prepared, kind of like the way Michael Haneke tricked fans of standard horror into watching Funny Games.
In some ways this is true. The opening shots of Spring Breakers are so over the top that it plays like a mockery of music video culture. Tits are everywhere, long shots of girls suggestively licking popcicles, it's ridiculous and elicited a lot of laughter in the theater just for how unabashedly raunchy the entire thing was.
After that out-of-context opening scene, we are introduced to our main players; the four easily excitable, bored, and restless girls that have been waiting to pool together their money and go on spring break together. Without wasting much time, the three that aren't Selena Gomez rob a fast-food joint and escape with enough cash to take the vacation of a lifetime.
So there's a lot of a scenes of the girls drinking alcohol, smoking weed, snorting cocaine, all framed with gratuitous ass shots and loud dubstep. This is kind of where my hopes for the film as some grand ironic mirror for society fell off, because it's just too damn indulgent in it's own debauchery. A lot of the movie seemed to me like Harmony Korine just wanted to make an R-rated music video, and pieced together a loose plot for a movie so he could string a bunch of them together.
There are some interesting narrative elements happening however. Repetition plays a big part. Early on in the film, Selena Gomez expresses boredom with her life, claiming she is seeing the same sights over and over again, hearing the same things, seeing the same people. Harmony Korine then, for the rest of the film, directs in a way where characters repeat themselves verbatim. The same phrases are said, the same shots of characters used. There are scenes placed right next to each other in different settings where the same dialogue is repeated in exactly the same way. It gives the whole film this strange hypnotizing feel, like Korine is pulling the mood down into this drug-trance like state where everything blends together and seems the same, even when the narrative tension is escalating.
As for the actual story content of the narrative, it's very much a morality play where the characters have no morals. Selena Gomez is introduced as the voice of reason within the group, but in the film's most interesting maneuver, she leaves a third of the way through the film and doesn't return. The remaining characters are fully invested in the drug-addled party and crime lifestyle they have started, and hardly ever express any regret for anything.
But for what the narrative does right, there just isn't enough of it. The movie feels padded with it's long, out-of-context beach-party scenes, and the repeated dialogue while at first fascinating, eventually becomes tedious and aggravating. It feels like a short-film stretched into feature length.
Since I'm already running a bit long, let me cover the acting real quick. Selena Gomez was surprisingly good, covering a wide range of emotion and being pretty convincing. The other girls were all basically the same person, and did a good enough job. Some of the dialogue was a little stilted, but I don't know if anybody could really sell the line "all this money's making my pussy wet". James Franco (acting game @JODYHiGHrOLLER) is good only because he is willing to break so far from what we're used to, so props to him for being willing to go so far over the top. Gucci Mane is fucking terrible
So, in the end, Spring Breakers is a film with some interesting ideas and some flawed execution. It's worth seeing because it's so unconventional, but it's not something I would rewatch any time soon.