Ben Sheetz’s review published on Letterboxd:
Wow. This was not was I was expecting. Where Harmony Korine’s films tend to be visceral, strange, and raw, Spring Breakers was a Malick-esque coming of age journey about four girls out to escape from the methodical life they lived to journey to find new experiences and strive towards a contemporary media driven fantasy of sex and violence with no repercussions. Over the course of the film, they begin to realize that this media representation is hollow and untrue, and begin realizing that a reserved life is wasteful, but so is an overindulgent one. To have an ideal life a balance must be achieved.
Korine’s portrayal of pop culture in this film is truly fascinating. He utilizes these iconic former Disney Channel actresses to represent the young populist naivety of American children’s television programming and how that morphs into an MTV and video game driven fantasy of meaningless sex and violence for pleasure and personal gain as the youth in society get older. These beautiful young girls are iconic because they represent today’s youth culture – Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens are pretty well known names to Millenials. This helps effectively push towards Korine’s themes in a subvert manner.
The four girls are middle class college girls that become dissatisfied with the monotony of college and working class life. All around them there are surrounded by a hip-hop, MTV culture that’s fixated on violence, drugs, and sex without any effects. It’s an unarguably exciting environment, but it’s not based in reality. In reality a drug kingpin has a tough life in which they have to live in fear of everyone around them. The idea of the middle to upper class youth idolizing and building up these tough rappers as stoic figures is troublesome, as even they would tell you that their lives are tough and far from carefree.
This film cannot be summed up without discussing the cinematography. I read somewhere that Korine advised his DP that he wanted the color scheme of this film to be like “Skittles”. The result is a lush neon dreamy color scheme that surpassed most movies I’ve seen in a while. There’s something about neon, it’s beautiful, but it doesn’t represent everyday life. This mirrored the themes of the stoic media fantasy not being based in reality. This was a really well-thought out and beautiful use of color.
Spring Breakers is Korine at his most accessible. He manages to juxtapose his strange, visceral style with a beautifully subtle Malick inspired coming of age story to make a great commentary on modern American culture and the hollowness and fakeness of the stoic icons that lie within it. Regardless of how much I captured in terms of interpretation of this first watch (this film is quite dense, and open to several interpretations), this film made me leave the theatre with a knot in my stomach. Fantastically effective.