Spring Breakers ★★★★

If there ever was a case of a polar reversal of my attitude to a film where I went from hating to adoring it over the course of two viewings, Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers would most definitely qualify. I distinctly remember leaving the cinema not only underwhelmed by what I saw but actively fuming at how pretentious I found that experience to be. Now, six years later I am ready to admit that I may have gotten it wrong at the time or that I needed to grow up a little to understand what Harmony Korine was doing, which was jabbing furiously at the cult of consumerism, the fallacy of The American Dream and the clueless victimhood of youth.

Korine’s not exactly subtle with the way he explores those themes visually, which is probably why I reacted so viscerally to this film upon first viewing. From juxtaposing images of drug-fuelled orgies and downright – voluntary – sexual degradation of young women with sounds of the protagonists leaving wholly untruthful voicemail messages for their loved ones to James Franco fellating a handgun or bonding over a poorly executed Britney Spears song, Spring Breakers can really present itself as a tad overbearing. However, woven into the fabric of this ludicrous narrative is real organic fury and disappointment with the way the world seems to be nowadays. Having understood that I can excuse Korine’s occasional indulgences in aesthetic heavy-handedness. Furthermore, the experience is tempered by its very subtle and intimate cinematography which works surprisingly effectively by way of contrast with the odd over-the-topness of characters and the story in general.

In summary, Spring Breakers is actually smarter than I gave it credit for when I first saw it. It’s incisive, preposterous and strangely mesmerizing in the way it juggles its dark thematic subject matter, bold aesthetic choices and earnest subtlety that all together add up to a wholesome cinematic experience that laments the state of American society very directly; it is a cinematic slap on the cheek. With a penis. Which the French refer to with a single word - bifler.