Film of the Day (09/12/18): Spring Breakers

 

Written By Harmony Korine
Directed By Harmony Korine

At first, I expected this to be shallow, despite how much I’ve come to trust A24 for delivering amazing films. But I’m glad to report I was wrong. When the opening of the movie is mostly montages of naked young people doing naked young people spring break things, that feeling was momentarily reinforced, but it doesn’t take long to see that this is a slice of life from an entirely different kind of pie. The shallowness, ironically, is only at the surface level, as we follow four girls who rob enough money to take a trip for spring break, off to a paradise where they can be whoever they want to be, if only for a short time. Debauchery exists in stark contrast to how these girls are being raised in their religious little town, and its allure is powerful to them. Korine and director of photography Benoit Debie compose a litany of fantastic frames, featuring imagery that is as strong and powerful as the girls want to be. James Franco does a good job as Alien, the drug dealing, rapping gangster that bails our four main characters out of jail and helps them embrace the life they didn’t know they wanted. I’m sure it’s been said for years, but you also have to give props to Vanessa Hudgens for shedding her Disney image to do something so raw and different, and the same should be said for Selena Gomez. Cliff Martinez and Skrillex deliver a score perfect for the film, and when paired with the color palette present for most of the film, it invokes images of The Neon Demon, for me (though yes, this came out first, I just didn’t view them in that order). Douglas Carise does a wonderful job as the editor, particularly during a scene that mashes a very tender moment between Alien and the girls with multiple slow motion shots of robberies and violence taking place. There is a very in-your-face pairing of smash cuts with gun cocking sound effects, hinting early that this fever dream the girls are experiencing will turn to a nightmare sooner than later. It’s a film about finding yourself in the least expected places, and while I have a bit of trouble swallowing the finale (and I have some thoughts on what it could mean), it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. Color me pleasantly surprised by this one.

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