- James Franco as Alien
- Selena Gomez as Faith
- Vanessa Hudgens as Candy
- Ashley Benson as Brit
- Rachel Korine as Cotty
- Gucci Mane as Big Arch
Spring Breakers is a film that will certainly divide opinion. It’s already ran the gamut of critical consensus from exploitative trash to audacious study of the American Dream gone awry. Both arguments can be aimed at the film but it emerges as an experience that will be hard to forget after the credits begin to roll.
Faith, Candy, Brit and Cotty are four female college students bored with life on campus as everyone else has gone away for spring break. Suffering from a lack of money to fund a trip, Candy and Brit come up with an idea to get some cash. Using water guns that look very real, they don ski masks and rob a local restaurant, Cotty aids them as the getaway driver. Picking up Faith, the most innocent of the group, they head for Florida, where they indulge in debauchery, drug taking and wild partying.It seems to be the best spring break experience they have ever had, until they are busted for being caught with cocaine at a party. Facing time in a holding cell, they are suddenly bailed out by an unexpected presence. His name is Alien, a local gangster/rapper who specialises in arms dealing. He convinces the quartet to spend time with him and his lifestyle. But slowly but surely, the ugly side of the lifestyle begins to raise its head and as the girls descend into violence and drugs, they are left questioning whether the lifestyle is as seductive and hypnotic as it first appears.
Although it will definitely polarize people’s views, there is no denying the visual style that Harmony Korine brings to the film. Bathing scenes in neon and voyeuristically showing debauchery, he doesn’t shy away from anything and leaves little to the imagination. It can be argued that the nudity and excessive drug use don’t stand for anything, but the repeated use of them hints at the way in which society has become desensitized from these things due to a constant influx of them in the media. Scenes are repeated and overlap in a very hypnotic way, that first shows the allure of the lifestyle but then shows the dark undercurrent that surges through. Voiceovers play an important part as well, the words “Spring Break Forever” becoming a strange mantra for the girls but also a warning of the dire consequences that may indeed follow. Sonically, Spring Breakers puts you in a an almost dreamscape environment with trance music accompanied with ambient noises. Particularly effective is Korine’s use of dichotomy such as the sound of Britney’s heartfelt “Everytime” counteracted by scenes of Alien and the girls robbing people and the religious Faith praying whilst another girl swigs whisky from a gun.
James Franco contributes a crazy as hell, barely recognisable performance as the charismatic yet extremely dangerous Alien. He promises the girls so much, highlighted by the scene in which he flaunts his wealth in a vulgar and almost ridiculous manner. It is a performance that lingers in the memory for sure. Out of the four girls gone bad, Faith is given the most individuality. Played with sincerity by Disney Princess Selena Gomez, she emerges as a girl torn between the shady lifestyle of Alien and her church roots. The rest of the girls have personalities that interchange a lot of the time but still turn in credible performances, especially Vanessa Hudgens as the one who is most drawn to what Alien promises her.
Whether you see it as nothing but trash or nightmarish examination of society’s flaws, Spring Breakers is most definitely a film that is inventive and uncomfortable in equal measure.