"Spring Breakers": A study in violent surrealism

Caroline Miller ’15Staff Writer

It’s definitely safe to say that my spring break pales in comparison to the wildly out-of-hand and darkly comic “spraaaaaaang break” depicted in the film “Spring Breakers” from director Harmony Korine.

The story depicts four bored college girls named Candy, Faith, Brit, and Cotty (played by Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine, respectively), whose greatest aspiration apparently is to escape the mundanity of their lives and go on a spring break adventure on the beaches of St. Petersburg, Florida. Since they have no money, they come up with the next most ‘logical’ plan during a late night coked-out planning session: rob a diner wielding squirt guns and hammers and drive a stolen car. What’s crazier is that they then proceed to do exactly what they planned. They get the money, torch the car, go on spring break, and are living the dream as they walk happily into the sunset!...

...until they get arrested for underage drinking and narcotics. This is when the film truly begins and the girls are bailed out of jail (still wearing bikinis) by James Franco’s rapper/drug dealer character, Alien. He introduces them to his world of sin, and although there are some casualties along the way, the film marches on towards its dreamlike and over-the-top climax.

Korine strategically cast former Disney channel stars to play Faith and Candy, who are the girls that stand out the most. None of the four women act that well, but again: is that the point? They only serve, in the end, to make James Franco’s superb performance that much better.

The film is violent, sexual, wildly offensive, and devoid of emotion. It makes no apologies—and I have to say I respect Korine for that. He’s got something to say (regardless of whether its message is actually crystal clear), and he does it by showing rather than telling. In fact, the only time there is much being said is when the scenes contain voice-overs, which repeat throughout the film and serve as its narrative device. They are pretty annoying, but you don’t really end up paying attention to what’s being said because there’s so much to look at. The only line you retain is “Spring break forever, bitches.”

So is it a good film? It’s tough to say. It is certainly a lot of things, and perhaps “good” is one of them. Every frame of every scene is so loaded with stimuli that it feels like a long and outrageous music video. Maybe that’s the real point: that it’s all a music video for Alien. Regardless, the film is full of blatant product placement, overemphasizing the state of excess. There is so much to dissect and mentally unpack that I eventually stopped trying and just let the entire spectacle of the film wash over me.

The real reason for my submission, however, is that the film didn’t give me a good enough reason to want to try interpreting it. That is exactly what I believe director Korine wants.

What does all this mean, or amount to? Well, the movie is certainly entertaining. I laughed through much of it instead of letting it offend me (although I know that people have been walking out of theaters nationwide) exactly because it is so ridiculous. I left the film speechless because I simply didn’t know what to think of it. That may be the real point. I don’t think even Korine knows his true intention with this film—if he did then maybe the film would be more affective and its “message” more effective.