Review: ‘Spring Breakers’ brings atypical concept to classic film category

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“Spring Breakers” is a 2012 “art-house” film directed by Harmony Korine, known for “Gummo and Kids,” that follows the adventures of four college girls on their spring break vacation.

When their “party-hard” lifestyle lands them in jail, they end up being bailed out by a rapper and dealer that’s named “Alien.” Go figure.

Staring former Disney stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, “Pretty Little Liars” star Ashley Benson, as well as Rachel Korine and James Franco. While “Spring Breakers” does offer some themes of temptation and willingness to indulge desires, at least for the shallow generation centered around said desires, the movie as a whole is not as great as it should be.

The big negative that was initially interesting in concept but got quickly stale is how the film uses its imagery. To clarify, it is a matter of how the movie is expressed visually, which is characterized by how “Spring Breakers” plays with its loose structure.

One of the more interesting sequences in the movie was the showing one of the big “plot” events – the word “plot” being used loosely – when the girls rob a restaurant. However, the robbery is shown from the getaway vehicle, as if Korine wanted to employ the tactic of “show, don’t tell” in that scene. The event later transitioned to a scene where the girls are driving off, clearly enjoying their crime spree, all of which was performed with little to no dialogue.

One scene that was disappointing in terms of execution comes later when the girls are reenacting the robbery. The moment falls short because it is not only conveyed through dialogue, but Korine felt that he had to go the extra mile and clumsily juxtaposed the friends reenactment against the actual crime. It takes away from the potential drama of that scene, because it is hard to take something seriously that comes off as clumsy as it did.

The angle of visual juxtaposition is understandable, even justified, but was overall too blunt, especially coming from a movie that attempts to be layered with its meaning.  The same goes with Franco’s amusing delivery of “spring break ” and “spring break forever,” which may have been the “Matthew McConaughey Lincoln ad” of his career.

While the movie uses this technique a bit too much, there are instances where the device is used correctly, such as when Selena Gomez’s character is talking to her grandmother about how good the trip is and they later repeat the same message at the end – both times contrasting a seemingly sweet, innocent message against the wildness of the spring break partygoers.

The juxtaposition is used correctly once again during a shootout between two of the girls and an entire gang, with the girls wiping out the gang entirely.

While the visuals and the dialogue are fine for the most part. The acting, overall, is convincing in conveying the message that Korine is shooting for, even when there are lines that sounds quite laughable on paper and amusing when delivered, there are times in the movie when the actors have an interesting scene to work with.

That enables some of the better acting in the movie.

In the scene with the girls reenacting their crime, it is almost comes off as a well performed scene because you have an interesting internal conflict with Selena Gomez’s character, that is noted due to her body language.

While the whole “Spring Break is awesome/Girls Gone Wild” portrayal with the rest of the group is rather a living, walking cliché, the actresses are surprisingly well cast for those roles. Franco is not bad either.

Although Franco’s dialogue can verge into pretentious philosophy territory, Franco does pick up that role and is competent in being the character that he is, even with his questionable accent. Just do not make him say “Spring Break” with that accent again.

To sum it up, while “Spring Breakers” is a difficult movie to recommend. It is such an oddity that it is hard not to hear other people’s reaction to.

It is a polarizing movie for sure, since reactions seem to range to unbelievable praise to outright  contempt. It is definitely not a mainstream movie, so viewers should not expect to see the conventional film they might expect.

“Art-house” flick are generally polarizing in nature, however “Spring Breakers” has flaws to it that prevent it from being what most people describe as a masterpiece. It is a good definition of decent idea, questionable execution.