Harmony Korine’s new film has promised to divide audiences from the release of its first teaser trailer. Taking several actresses famous for their sweet, innocent work for America’s Disney Channel and mixing them in with a world of drugs, promiscuity, greed and violence, Spring Breakers creates a darker image of Spring break.
It is hard to summarise the film in a few sentences as I am still unsure what it was all about. It seems to me that Korine himself is unsure of what he was trying to say. Spring Breakers resulted in a mixture of confused messages and contradictions. Particular moments seemed to be trying to tap into certain issues of obsession and hyper-reality. As we watch three of the main characters rob a chicken joint in order to fund their spring break, we are given the impression that video gaming is being criticised. As the characters calm their nerves by reminding themselves to “pretend it’s a video game“, it feels as though this particular modern issue is going to be opened up for discussion. However, Korine leaves this unexplored until the final minutes of the film, where it is still not referenced directly. I am capable of appreciating a director’s choice to leave the readings of the film up to the audience but here we are neither guided or instructed by Korine, resulting in a feeling of bafflement.
It is the film’s muddled up images of feminism that are most frustrating and confusing. At certain points you are embracing the empowerment of the female characters, despite their lack of likeability, only to be bombarded with exploitative images for the following three minutes. Although the female characters are varied and diverse, they are not well thought out or believable. They are unconvincing characters propped up by uninteresting and flat performances. It was incredibly frustrating to watch women use their sexuality in a liberating way whilst seeing them completely focussed on materialism and wealth.
Despite the annoying characters and the dull plot, Spring Breakers displayed energetic and intelligent uses of sound, editing and cinematography. The music matched the settings and elevated the film’s hyped up images of what Spring break seems to be all about. James Franco also gave an enjoyable performance, despite his similarity to Kevin Federline which both amused me and distanced me from the character. Despite my criticisms and problems with the film it is not to say it wasn’t enjoyable. I had fun, but I was never engrossed. I enjoyed the story but did not care where it went. It was tiresome and full of flaws that I could not ignore. As a member of the audience I felt lost and isolated by the film and whilst trying to detect some kind of moral message I realised that Spring Breakers simply did not have enough substance or depth to deliver any type of second meaning.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.