Spring Breakers Review

Movies

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Spring Breakers
Studio: Annapurna Pictures, Muse Productions, Division Films
Publisher: A24
Format: Cinema
Release Date: May 9, 2013

Overview

If you glance at the poster for Spring Breakers, a bunch of girls in bikinis, combined with the title, you may have already made up in your mind what the movie is about. Yet again we have another party movie. Except this time two famous Disney stars are involved, which causes intrigue enough.

But that’s not all, it isn’t just about a bunch of attractive young women flouncing around in bikinis and having a good time. In fact, if you inspect the poster closer you can see a gun dangling from Ashley Bensons’ hand, a hint as to what the movie truly is at heart, that darker streak that sets it apart.

Story

Plot isn’t the strongest thing in Spring Breakers. It starts in a dreary town where four girls (Hudgens, Benson, Gomez and Korine) are desperate to escape and get to Florida for Spring Break. Yes, this sounds like a story told time and time again but instead of taking on boring jobs, smiling at cute boys, and learning things about friendship, they rob a diner with a squirt gun and mallet. Yep.

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With that, they are on their way to Florida to party it up. Once more it seems to drift into that cliché of party rocking, drinking, drugs, and so on. Though to be honest the moments of friendship between the girls are probably more genuine than in most movies, they each have their quiet alliances, and they all have fun and act ridiculous with each other, bursting into a rendition of a Britney Spears song in the parking lot.

Yet here, again, it takes another turn. When they are busted for having taken narcotics (by snorting them off the bare chest of a passed out girl), they spend time in jail. Still wearing their skimpy bikinis. Because apparently the penal system in Florida can’t afford to give them any more than a thin blanket.

This is where Alien (James Franco) comes into the movie and it takes a turn. Suddenly everything gets so much darker, and far more out there, and suddenly the movie doesn’t at all resemble the beginning where a bunch of college girls wanted to get some drugs and sex.

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This movie goes places where you wouldn’t think it would. It has some pretty ridiculous moments, and some moments that are meant to be tense and gritty but the grittiness is worn down by the overall ridiculousness. It feels like a crazy dream, and will probably make you laugh – whether out of humour, discomfort, or disbelief – a lot of the time. This might take away from the moments that are meant to be heavier and cause them to be more boring, but it makes up for it shortly afterwards.

The previous Disney stars, Hudgens and Gomez, actually do really well in this new edgy environment. To be perfectly honest, Hudgens plays the dangerous, flawed Candy far better than she ever played the wholesome Gabriella Montez of High School Musical. She slips into the role easily and her performance doesn’t cause any of those uncomfortable grimaces that you’d usually expect.

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Gomez’s character Faith takes on the main focus of the movie at the beginning, being the less intense out of the girls and having a religious upbringing that still has her visiting churches and youth groups. It is this viewpoint that allows us to more easily slip into the movie, providing a more ‘normal’ outsiders view that eases us into the eventual craziness of the ride.

While Faith is the more toned down of the characters, Gomez still adopts the role well and there is no hint of the Disney girl in this new character – Selena Gomez has clearly grown up.

Still, the female characters are a lot less developed than Franco’s Alien. Where Alien is given depth and backstory, the only female character with any true depth is Gomez’s character. The other three girls are treated with broad angsty late-teen-early-twenties character strokes. In fact, Benson and Hudgens’ characters are barely distinguishable at all, and could in fact be melded into one character with no real loss.

Visuals and Audio

Spring Breakers was written and directed by Harmony Korine, someone known for his focus on imagery and events rather than linear storyline. This comes through in the movie strongly, with some very solid shot composition that looks fantastic without playing that much of a role in terms of story development.

Still, most of the many visual and audio montages of the film do have a purpose and do a good job of building the emotion of the scene well. Quite often the clash of these different film tools succeeds in creating the right environment for the off kilter direction of the plot and characters.

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If it weren’t for the cinematography and styling, a lot of the scenes and dialogue would fall flat and come across as entirely ridiculous. However, even the simple way in which pool scenes are shot help to draw you into the movie more and expand on what is usually a fly-on-the-wall feeling to being able to relate and resonate with the movie. Especially as someone who is in their early twenties, I found myself relating to a few of the themes due to the involving way it was shot, combined with the voiceovers.

Repetition is a big thing throughout the movie, linking the beginning to the end, and containing that one thread that the whole movie wants to stress. There’s repetition of phrases with different character’s voiceovers, repetition of scenery and imaging, and it all does a pretty good job of tying the movie together and giving a sense of an ending, even if the ending isn’t really there at all.

Overall

This is a crime movie, wrapped up in a party movie, wrapped up in an overload of sex and topless girls. While on the surface it looks like your typical movie, it really isn’t. Like the girls in the movie, it has a beautiful magazine-quality scantily-clad look with a far, far darker part underneath. Don’t go into this movie expecting anything and you will get a few interesting surprises. If nothing else, this movie will coax a reaction out of you.

Oh, and yes, there is a threesome scene.

7-5-capsules-out-of-10

Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.

BRB, playing games.

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