March 25, 2013

Movie Review: Spring Breakers (2013)

Now, here is a movie I had no idea what it was going to be about. Even now, some time has passed since I saw the movie and I am still at a loss to really explain all that happened. I think that may be part of the point. It is certainly a strange trip, a fever dream exploitation film, a smashing of Disney and the Grindhouse through an MTV generation filter. It is an experience more that a movie, better experienced as stream of consciousness as opposed to any type of traditional narrative.

Spring Breakers spring from the mind of Harmony Korine, the pen behind Kids and Gummo. To be honest, I am surprised it got a wide release, but I suspect that is more of a result of having former Disney girls Vanessa Hudgeons and Selena Gomez on board, a lot with James Franco, than the content. It is a strange film that seems to have pedigree that can be traced to the exploitation films of the 1960's and 1970's. This is a movie that takes the Disney image and just shatters it, throws it on the ground and stomps it into the dust. This is not a bad thing either, it forces a we perspective on the actresses, helps them real free of a potentially typecasting image and results in a weird movie which is more often good than not.

As the movie ended and people began to get up and leave, I sat there watching the credits, carefully considering my reaction. I knew I liked it, just had a little trouble processing the thing. My reason for mentioning this is that I loved how many people got up with disgust in their expression saying things like "I hated that movie" and "that is the worst thing I have ever seen." I loved how the movie managed to get a wide release and then proceed to completely mess with expectations, not of jut how to tell a narrative but expectations of celebrities choice of work. It is a thing of beauty.

The movie begins by throwing you right into the middle of Spring Break debauchery, people on bikinis or less grinding in slow motion to Skrillex. Well, before you can get to comfortable with your surroundings, you are thrown to a school which as emptied out for the break and a few girls, friends all, are left without enough money to head to where the action is. Before long you have a group of girls making a bad decision, liking how it makes them feel which leads to other bad decisions. The end result? Girls in bikinis with pink unicorn ski masks and big guns.

This is a movie stripped to the necessities. It is not one filled with exposition, reasoning, or moralizing, it just presents the events that happen. It requires us to fill in what they may be thinking, or not. It is pretty crazy to watch how their initial bad decision lead into their partying, into a bit of trouble, into a lot of trouble.

There is a sequence of events that plays out in Spring Breakers that could not have been anticipated by anyone involved. From the initial decision on how to get the break money, to how it makes them feel, to the initial partying moments, and then the entrance of Alien (James Franco wearing grills and corn rows) and what he ends up meaning to them and what they do for each other.

Spring Breakers is a crazy movie that makes little narrative sense. It is filled with moments that I criticize in other movies that actually work in this context. It is the moments where a simple conversation could change the course of events, a slight injection of logic where none was previously. If logic was employed by our intrepid Breakers, it is likely that nothing at all would have happened. So, I guess we should be thankful for a writer who fails, purposefully, to give our protagonists logic.

The best thing I can say is to sit back and let it just happen. Take in the experience, watch as Korine takes you down the rabbit hole. Follow these girls over the rainbow to a world that tantalizes them with the idea of self discovery, but that promise is a lie. It is a uniquely modern Grindhouse flick that should be celebrated. Not necessarily loved, but recognized for what it is doing and seeks to be. It is a film that seems simple on the surface, but may hide something within its frames.


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