Monday, 6 May 2013
FILM REVIEW: SPRING BREAKERS
Icon Film Distribution
While many Americans hold strong (however misguided) to that section of the Constitution which affords them the 'right to bear arms', another segment of the population believes just as firmly in the 'pursuit of happiness'.
That demographic would be college students and the most flagrant display of that pursuit is Spring Break - the annual rite of passage which sees thousands of college students descend on Florida for a week or so of Bacchanalian celebrations: booze, drugs and plenty of skin, or in the case of Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers, boobs.
In the opening shots of Spring Breakers we are assaulted with a barrage of boobs, some in bikinis and some not; if the film had been shot in 3D (a lost opportunity?), you could possibly have lost an eye. The one too many shots of thrusting female crotches are just as immersive, with or without 3D, and depending on your inclinations, for better or worse.
Korine is actually wagging his finger at the hollow hedonism of today's American youth but he's also having his cake and eating it too. Depiction isn't endorsement but he and his cinematographer, Benoit Debie, have no problem lingering over nubile young bodies in various states of undress. "Filthy! But genuinely arousing" they seem to be saying.
Arriving in this orgy of alcohol-fuelled carnal excess are four small town undergrads from middle America who, so desperate to escape their dreary lives, held-up a local restaurant to fund their excursion. The four (three of them blondes, interchangeable with one another, although one is Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical fame; another is the wife of Korine) feel as though Spring Break has provided them a spiritual awakening and not surprisingly, decide they never want to leave.
That is until one of their hotel room parties is busted-up by the cops and they're thrown in the brink. Bailed out by local gangster, Alien (James Franco), the girls' vacation is about to get a whole lot worse (although not at first), just as the film gets a much needed energy boost by Franco.
A head of cornrows and a metal grill for teeth, Franco's Alien is a gangster rapper of sorts who has more cash than class. And as Selena Gomez (the only non-blonde of the quartet) flees to the safety of home, the remaining three become Alien's coterie; seduced by the abundance of guns, drugs and the possessions that the proceeds of dealing in each can buy.
Living in a sprawling Miami pad, with a pool (with piano) and water views, like Jay Gatsby, Alien's a self made man and epitome of the (corrupted) American dream. Korine even borrows directly from F. Scott Fitzgerald: the 'look at my shit' scene in Alien's house an homage, however ineloquent, to Gatsby's delight in finally being able to show Daisy his wealth; showering her with his wardrobe of silk shirts of every colour.
Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, set amid the height of the Roaring '20s, hinted at the fall that was to come. The author knew that the party -- the decadence and largesse -- had to end some time. In a post-GFC world, Korine isn't foreshadowing an economic collapse so much as an intellectual and aesthetic one (even if the sting of his cautionary tale gets lost among the boobs and booze).
These girls and Alien belong to a generation that wants everything instantly: enjoy now, pay later. But a generation which sees Britney Spears as both an artistic icon and a role model can't be headed anywhere good. The future's not bright enough to wear shades but for now, bikinis will do. Spring break forevaaaa!