Spring Breakers (2013)

Poster for Spring Breakers

Harmony Korine’s new film is all about the American Dream and the libidinal savagery behind it. Filmed in happy, swirling candy colors like an endless music video, it follows four girls who travel to St Petersburg in Florida for Spring Break. They party hardy with the mob of college students — bikinis and beer bongs, booze and bud — and they end up in jail after a party gets out of control. Rescuing them from jail is a sweet-natured predator named Alien (James Franco) who is a gangster living the rags-to-riches dream. Will he lead these innocent young bikini-babes down the road to perdition?

Well, they’re already well down that road by the time he enters the picture. Part of the pleasure of Spring Breakers is that it depicts the blonde honeys as the real bad-asses in the story. They are the true nightmare behind the American Dream. I’m actually a little uncertain about how to interpret that. Is it simply that evil wears an innocent face? But another odd thing the film does is depict the brunette Faith as the good, Christian girl who extracts herself from the situation before it gets ugly. Aside from the flipping of hair-symbolism (blonde=good, brunette=bad), the unironic portrayal of the Christian girl who knows perdition when she sees it was unexpected. On the other hand the ultimate fate of the two girls who go all the way down the road wasn’t what I expected either.

Well, the whole thing is a college exploitation movie turned on its head, showing us the heart of darkness beneath all the cliches of the genre, but having a good laugh at the human comedy nonetheless. The blondes are really angels of a sort, it’s just that Korine knows that angels are beings of terrifying power. They know how to party like it’s the end of the world — or at least of the American Dream.

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