Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers ★★★★★

Okay. Imagine that a Girls Gone Wild video has been remade with hypnotic visuals, whispery and repetitive voiceovers, liberal use of slow motion, and elliptical editing. Throw in a surprisingly nuanced (and years from now, iconic) performance from James Franco as a hilarious wannabe-hard white rapper with a grill/cornrows and you have a darkly comic masterpiece. It isn't all fun and laughs, though. It's extremely bleak and seems completely devoid of hope. It stays with you for days (and possibly weeks? Months? YEARS?) whether you like the movie or not. You just hear "Spring break… spring break forever" on repeat (constant, y'all!) in your head for no reason. Sometimes you even mutter it aloud and people look at you funny. Or maybe that's just me?

I haven't seen any other Harmony Korine films, but based on this one, I'm convinced he's a got an insane amount of talent.  He's able to mask terrible performances with a combination of a stunning score, distracting musical choices, and bizarre editing.  James Franco and Selena Gomez are the only actors given real characters to play and they both take wildly divergent paths. Franco takes the over-the-top approach, but he occasionally brings it down to earth and turns in some incredibly creepy and disturbing moments. Gomez's performance is weepy and annoying, but that's what the character demanded so… whatever. She leaves the film really early on, and it's a pretty welcome absence.

The script is extremely tight, only exposing snippets of dialogue here and there to create the illusion of a fully formed narrative. Once I realized there probably wasn't a strong message below the surface level "FUCK this group of young, immature, self-centered, half-naked idiots," I settled into the satirical tone and stopped expecting commentary or a challenge, even though that does come through at pivotal moments. Sometimes I laughed, sometimes I cringed, but mostly I stared mouth agape in blissful disbelief.

It's just boring to take cheap shots at such an incredibly easy target as kids who go on spring break, so the apparent lack of logic and sense in the narrative structure of the film speaks to the idea that it isn't as judgmental as it seems. I don't think it's trying all that hard to be a cautionary tale or condemn certain behaviors. It's certainly ironic and there are times when it seems to make fun of the target demographic buying up all the tickets, like when you expect the Brittany Spears sing-a-long to be hilarious but the sequence is actually really frightening and unsettling.

I can't decide whether it's a bewilderingly complex fantasy sequence that almost tricks you into thinking it mirrors reality… or if it's simply a visually-stunning violent crime drama filled with reprehensible characters and caricatures. It's quite possible that it's both. It's also possible that it makes my brain hurt so much that I'm misinterpreting the lingering feelings I have toward it as love instead of repulsion.

Nope, this is definitely love I'm feeling. Spring Breakers, you're my motherfuckin soulmate. I swear to god I'm in love with you.

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