Ryster’s review published on Letterboxd:
Here's the thing with Spring Breakers, it's a film that features past Disney stars, dialogue that is incredibly thin and a montage to a Britney Spears song, and it's all really good. When this film got released I took notice (why wouldn't I, the poster features four scantily clad women and James Franco with cornrows). Thing is though, I didn't hear a lot of good things about it and I dismissed it for what I thought it was. The promotional campaign of this film is both good and bad. The poster gives a good depiction of what the film features but not a good idea of what it's about or what it's like. This isn't a comedy, but features satire which viewers can recognise or ignore. This isn't an action film, but features guns and quite a bit of blood and violence. What I'm trying to get at is that Spring Breakers is very hard to describe. For this reason I now understand why this film has gotten bad reviews. Released for Spring time and revolving around partying, starring many actors that teenagers adore and advertisements that loosely revolve around these things is why. This is an art film at its core. The narrative is basic and the film focuses a lot on camerawork and cinematography to tell an idea of the American Dream and how young adulthood has changed thanks to movies, music and other media. I can only imagine the faces of people looking for a sexy summer blockbuster along the lines of recent teen comedies and meeting a sexy spiral into drugs, crime and the darkside of partying.
Four college friends are bored and depressed with their current lives and want nothing more than to go on spring break. They don't have enough money though and to solve this they rob a small restaurant. This act of crime triggers the girls to get more and more involved in crime.
James Franco delivers an incredible performance here. He totally embodies the character of Alien. He's funny at parts, incredibly creepy at others but a standout throughout. I forgot that I was watching Franco and all I saw was this lost person named Alien delving deeper into a nightmare. Selena Gomez is the main character of the four girls in my opinion. She's like a voice of reason. Her character isn't in this for long and when she leaves that's when the rest of the characters lose control. She does enough to get rid of her clean, Disney princess image. Her acting ability allows her to be a very believable young adult. Vanessa Hudgens managed to shed her High School Musical image before this film got released and in this she continues to show people that she's far from that time. She smokes, drinks, swears to no end, has sex, you name it she's probably done it here. Along with the rest of the girls, her performance is believable which makes her character maybe the most interesting along with Alien. Once Gomez is gone, Hudgens is the most used character and as time goes on she falls deeper and deeper into the life of crime which I found fascinating. Ashley Benson feels surprisingly underused even though she stays for the entire ride. It feels like her character follows the actions of Hudgens'. She does a good job though. Rachel Korine also delivers a good performance but, just as Benson, she feels underused.
The story here is used as a springboard more than anything. The four girls want to get away so they steal money and thus begins the crime riddled journey. After the first act is over and the audience meet Alien that's when Harmony Korine hits hard with what he believes people interpret as the American Dream. Throughout the film dialogue is repeated over and over again and it tells audiences exactly what they should be thinking about involving the current generation. One example I can think of is near the beginning where the girls are discussing how they are going to rob the restaurant. They say pretend you're in a movie or a videogame. This line is then repeated and it made me think of how adults react to violence in modern media and how they believe its polluting children's minds, making them violent. Maybe not, I could be totally wrong but that's what I took away from the repeated dialogue. The cinematography is outstanding. The film looks dazzling. I loved the fact that scenes involving safe, pure and normal things about life are quite bare and look boring while dangerous, criminal and party scenes are all dazzling and bright and fun. It's an incredible contrast that I thought did a great job in presenting ideas of how young people view life in a time where high speed car chases on TV, partying and violence are all the norm. The film ends very abruptly. As soon as the third act kicks in its not long before the credits start to roll and Lights by Ellie Goulding starts playing. It feels rushed during the ending. When all is said and done, Spring Breakers will be different for near enough everyone. Many people will hate it as its not a normal movie. I really liked it though, I was surprised by the four young actresses and how good I thought they were and I loved the look of the film. I hardly ever say this but this is more of an experience than a film and I loved that.