Film Review: Spring Breakers (18, limited release, 94 minutes) ****
Director: Harmony Korine Stars: James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson
Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers is a remarkable, challenging and deceptively complex film that has already divided critics in the US and enraged some feminist commentators. In the Guardian, Heather Long even claimed that the opening scenes legitimise rape.
Not sure I follow you there, Heather, but then it's very easy to miss the point of Spring Breakers, a movie that seems at times like a glossy byproduct of the trashy, morally bankrupt and glibly materialistic society it is in fact brilliantly satirising.
Selena Gomez, Rachel Korine, Ashley Benson and a very effective and scarcely recognisable Vanessa Hutchens play Faith, Cotty, Brit and Candy, four lifelong friends and high school seniors who are devastated when they find out they don't have enough money to follow their classmates to a spring break vacation in Florida.
So desperate, in fact, that they decide to rob a local fast food restaurant using fake guns, a plan that goes off without a hitch.
But the robbery and the mindless hedonism they encounter when they get to Florida corrode the girls' fragile grasp of morality, and they soon find themselves in the orbit of a volatile gangster called Alien (James Franco), who pushes them further down the path of criminality.
Spring Breakers' plot seems farfetched and hard to take seriously when you put it down on paper, but somehow Korine makes you buy it all. His impressionistic and wildly inventive film flows beautifully and fluently and subtly pinpoints gangster flash as the logical endpoint of the American dream.
One of the things I liked most about it is the fact that it contains hardly a single straight dramatic scene. Instead, the events and jumbled reactions bleed into each other like a half-remembered life. It's a remarkable film, and Franco is terrific as the deluded, big-talking wannabe gangster.