Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

2013, R, 94 min. Directed by Harmony Korine. Starring Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, James Franco, Gucci Mane.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., March 22, 2013

No less a cinema provocateur than he was when he debuted in the Nineties as one of the writers of Larry Clark’s infamous Kids and as the director of purposefully alienating Gummo and Julien Donkey-Boy, Harmony Korine has finally found popular success with his new film Spring Breakers – if the numbers from the film’s boffo opening weekend hold steady as it now goes into wider release. Technically, Spring Breakers is a far cry from the ultra-lo-fi camerawork and storytelling he implemented in his last feature, 2009’s Trash Humpers. But more than the technical upgrade, Korine seems to be working in a more populist key in Spring Breakers, using attractive, scantily clad young women (a couple of them Disney alums) in central key roles and obscuring the line between carefree indulgence and dangerous sociopathy.

"Pretend it’s a video game. Act like you’re in a movie or something,” says one of the quartet of college coeds before three of them rob a restaurant to get the cash that will enable them to head to Florida for spring break and escape the relentless monotony of university life. Korine, too, films the events as though he were making a movie or something for the first time in his career. This is a spring break/teen exploitation film that has all the booze and bikinis a glutton could want, parading its excesses through candy-colored lens filters and a backing soundtrack by Cliff Martinez and Skrillex. Hauled into a Florida jail, the girls are bailed out by a drug dealer named Alien, who is played by James Franco in one of his most flamboyant turns, with grillz on his teeth and long cornrows. Except for Faith (Gomez), the girls are as impressed as Alien is with all his “stuff” – guns, drugs, expensive possessions – and readily adopt his gangsta lifestyle. The abundant cash and high-risk thrills sure beat going back to the college dorm. In turns appealing and horrifying, Spring Breakers is Korine’s most cogent take yet on society’s outsiders.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Spring Breakers
From the Vaults: Harmony Korine Is Back From Break
From the Vaults: Harmony Korine Is Back From Break
Will 'Spring Breakers' continue its smash-and-grab at the box office?

Marjorie Baumgarten, March 22, 2013

More Harmony Korine Films
The Beach Bum
Fear and loathing in Florida with Korine and Matthew McConaughey

Dan Gentile, March 29, 2019

Mister Lonely
Oddly, Harmony Korine's film may be his most accessible as a director, featuring characters and images that are unforgettable – even if they don't add up to a complete narrative or visual whole.

Marjorie Baumgarten, June 6, 2008

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Stardust
Bowie before he became Ziggy in this less-than-glittering docudrama

Nov. 27, 2020

Sound Unseen Review: <i>Stardust</i>
Sound Unseen Review: Stardust
The birth of Bowie the icon retold with more glimmer than glitter

Nov. 16, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Spring Breakers, Harmony Korine, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, James Franco, Gucci Mane

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle