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Archive for April 8th, 2013

Desperate for “a break from reality” four young college students (Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine) hold up a diner to fund their spring break trip to Florida. Once there, they party with other like minded kids until they hook up with Alien (James Franco), a drug dealer, rapper and wanabee “Gang-stA”. From there, things descend from hedonism to nihilism.spring-breakers-posters-slice

There is technique used by DJ‘s (I know nothing about the subject other than hearing it, I don’t know if there is a name for the practice) where they play the hook of a song during another song. When done well it is both subtle and obvious at the same time. This gives the audience a idea of what is coming next or later, but a DJ may play with the audience playing just a snippet of a song that never comes. There is a similar practice in film editing where a part of a future scene is cut in. There is nothing unique or original about its use in Spring Breakers, however I can’t remember it ever being used so much or so well in a movie.spring-breakers

The film has achieved a certain notoriety due to the casting of former Disney starlets Hudgens and Gomez, when put into context of the actions of former Disney starlets real life in recent years, this is little more than a marketing gimmick. That said as I watched the movie I was never sure if I was watching something exploitative or something profoundly satirical.spring-breakers-640x426

Despite the attractive young bodies on display and the often stunning photography there is something unattractive and almost dirty about the movie. This is a reflection of the characters and their actions, despite their assurances that they are having fun, there is little evidence that they are actually happy or having any fun. Following their arrival in Florida I can’t think of any scenes where the girls have a conversation with anyone other than each other and Alien. Their existence is empty and banal, I did question a few times if it was real. The film exists in a sort of a dream-state that never feels quite real, we keep hearing the repeated phrase “a break from reality”, are we watching reality or the delusions and dreams of a group of board teenagers?Still from spring breakers

The plot is paper thin and overly simplistic, the dialogue is often incoherent but it gets away with it largely because these things appear to be intentional. Despite reports to the contrary, it is actually a well made film mating it an easy watch and as such it can be forgiven a lot. The pace works well with each act ending before it outstays its welcome. The film is at its best when James Franco is in it, although the female quartet are given top billing, it is Franco that makes it work. The directors wife, Rachel Korine is given the least to do, Selena Gomez is given what looks like it is going to be the most interesting character but it is ultimately underused and under developed. The characters played by Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson are largely interchangeable. Ultimately the characters are little more than caricatures, this again appears intentional and is possibly essential for the feel of the movie. And that is where the movie exists, it is a feeling, a dream like poem, a dream without narrative whose finer details fade as you wake, “a break from reality”.SPRING-BREAKERS

Not as hollow and meaningless as some would have you believe but not as edgy or subversive as the filmmakers would like you to think. It may be one of those films where viewers will take out of it what they bring to it. Those who want to be shocked or outraged will find plenty to be shocked and outraged about; those who want to be titillated will certainly find what they are looking for; and those wanting a deeper meaning or subtext will find even if it isn’t there. Not a film that is easy to recommend but one where it is worth seeing to form your own opinion and see what all the fuss is about.

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