RJ LaRussa’s review published on Letterboxd:
Harmony Korine delivers a slamming critique of modern culture disguised in a package that has much more wide appeal. Seeing “Spring Breakers” the first time, in the theaters was once of the most telling examples of peoples general view of entertainment. Never have I seen so many moviegoers walk out in disgust or pure distaste for anything out of the ordinary. This example probably best shows the relationship Harmony Korine has with audiences. Polarizing critics and viewers, “Spring Breakers” is a case in point showcase of this deliberate style.
The narrative structure is bizarre, to say the least. This film almost plays back like someone reciting a memory of their whole spring break. Sections show up in and out of order, and haunting voice overs and eery music set the tone for the film. Crossing between surrealism and visualized beat generation poetry, the unique style of storytelling on display in “Spring Breakers” is mostly responsible for the walkouts. It seemed to display to me that most people today don't enjoy thinking outside the box, or unconventionally. In an age where so many cookie cutter films get pushed out by studios to make a quick buck, it's refreshing to see a reminder of what else can be done as far as film as an art and entertainment medium.
What starts as a normal spring break (although enabled by extraordinary events), quickly turns sour for our four main characters. Blaring music plays as college kids drink and party, pouring beer on each other, suggestively eating popsicles. This gratuitous opening scene sets the tone and attitude that is conveyed by the main cast. Eager to fund their adventure, Cottie, Candy, and Brit break off and decide to rob a local fast food restaurant (shown in one of the best uses of long takes in cinema). These over the top party scenes soon morph, often quite literally through editing, into much darker territory. The clever use of low quality videotape and some tricky editing, this period of the film comes off as very memorable. Soon after they are arrested, and then bailed out by a local rapper and self proclaimed “G” Alien, the story really takes off.
Right from the start, Alien displays many characteristics that will save him a place among the best characters ever to appear in a Harmony Korine film. This rapper, drug dealer, and all around gangster really stands out. His view of beauty in the world and his impassioned speeches about the American dream are a perfect allegory for the film. Alien lives in a gorgeous seaside house, right next door to many run down, more dilapidated looking houses. They lie right along his fence, next to his pristine view of the ocean. And he doesn't care, because he, like the films director Harmony Korine see the beauty in the unconventional. “Spring Breakers” displays this common theme close to its core. The entire film shows a group of college kids who have a less than normal trip on spring break, revolving around some questionable activities. Seeing these other sides of normal stories is perfect for conveying the message, and it gives a good look into Aliens personal feelings as well as the directors. Alien also strikes me as interesting because of the way he holds onto things he loves, even if they're obsolete. For example, he still drives around an old Camaro, when he can clearly afford something better. It shows that he really holds sentimental value onto certain things, which is surprising because of how brutal he really is. It is certainly a memorable performance of a characters whose complexity is more than skin deep, and I think James Franco really stands out here.
Visually and audibly the film really excels. It has a unnerving score that is most often subtle, little ambient sounds to keep the tension up, but it can because overly lavish and in your face with dubstep when it needs to. It perfectly sets the tone for the film. Visually “Spring Breakers” is also very impressive. Bright neon color palates and sunny Florida weather give it a surreal look. It is one example where heavy use of filters pays off for the films benefit. The films visuals often help convey the emotions of the characters. Opting for bright, sunshine enhancing filters when they're riding high having the time of their life, and much darker color tones with clashing neon as times get tough. The film absolutely shows a very high level of achievement when looking at the visuals. This is important since “Spring Breakers” is more of a film you take in as a visual experience than most.
Overall I think “Spring Breakers” delivers very strongly. However, it's very polarizing a many audiences won't like it. But that is the nature of art films, it's meant to speak to very few people on a much more personal level than others. Combine this with uncanny ability to craft something unique and refreshing and you have a recipe for a exceptional film. And “Spring Breakers” certainly fits the bill, as long as you go into it with an open mind.