Sunday, December 29, 2013

Movie with Abe: Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers
Directed by Harmony Korine
Released March 15, 2013 / DVD July 9, 2013

There are some movies that don’t even show up on my radar. This film, with Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens headlining, was one I hadn’t even heard of until James Franco starting winning awards for his supporting performance as Alien. I found it hard to believe that critics’ groups would have bothered to see this enough to notice Franco. I decided that I had to judge for myself, but my expectations were not high. “Spring Breakers” took a very different direction than I had anticipated, but its quality level was as I had assumed: awful.

“Spring Breakers” has a certain style that’s hard not to find appealing, in theory at least. Opening with shots of people partying, many topless, on the beach set to thumping music suggests that this will not a film of high intellectual caliber. Yet it also perfectly sets up the feel of the lifestyle that this film’s characters so desperately yearn to have. The central protagonists – four college girls – fantasize about getting away for spring break during class and study breaks, yet their bubbles are burst when they realize that they cannot possibly afford to get to this magical utopia.

Once reality sets in, the film shifts abruptly from a grungy half-lucid fantasy to something altogether more frightening. The girls don masks and bring toy guns to a restaurant and rob all its customers in order to procure money for their trip. From that moment on, no one is innocent, and it’s especially disturbing to see the girls reenact their prized robbery to others later in the film and express such passion for the crime they have committed. Landing in jail for drug use links them with Franco’s Alien, whose impossibly slick style and attitude seems too good to be true.

The reason that Franco likely won award mentions for his performance is that he is a respected actor who is capable of floating between worlds, doing serious acting work in films like “Milk” and “127 Hours” and then starring in a bottom-of-the-barrel mess like this. Franco certainly commits, but it’s only award-worthy in comparison to the rest of the film. Everything else about “Spring Breakers” is equally unfortunate and off-putting, and the film’s use of repeated lines to drive point the disconnected nature of its characters’ relationship with reality becomes extremely irritating shortly after the film begins and unbearable by its end.


No comments: